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Washington's Health Exchange Set To Open For Business Once Again

Gabriel Spitzer
The last open enrollment period for the ACA closed on March 31. This Saturday the exchange will re-open for three months.

Washington’s health care exchange will reopen for business late this week, and exchange officials say people will have more choices and a smoother shopping experience this time around.

Saturday will mark the start of the second open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. That means that most individuals will be able to get new health insurance or change plans for the first time since last spring.

Exchange spokesman Michael Marchand said they will find the list of options has grown.

“This year we will have over twice as many new plans available to individuals,” he said.

And for the first time in Washington, small businesses will have their own marketplace where they can choose among 23 available plans for their employees.

In the first open enrollment period, the website WAHealthPlanFinder.orgoutperformed its federal counterpart, but still had a number of outages. Marchand said the site is more stable now, and he expects an easier user experience over all.

“Year two is going to be so much different. Those who are renewing, you already have an account set up. You’re not going to need necessarily as much information as before,” he said.  

This enrollment period will be shorter than last year’s, at just three months instead of six. During that first period, more than 140,000 Washingtonians signed up for private health plans. The state Health Care Authority said another 400,000 or so have enrolled in Medicaid.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.