Compared to other sites, WA health exchange off to decent start

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on October 21, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 21 at 5:48 PM

While the federal healthcare exchange is having problems, many people may not realize that Washington state has its own exchange. And compared to several other states, it seems to be off to a decent start.

Heather Fisher says she had it pretty easy. The college student and part-time nanny logged on to the state's site, Washington Healthplanfinder, and enrolled the second day after it opened. She found an affordable Group Health plan with a premium of about $160 a month. How long did it take?

"Probably only 10 minutes total," Fisher said.

Other viewers sounded off on the KING 5 Facebook about their experience. Cathy Evans Freeman-Adams posted: "I had no problems, signed up in 15 mins!"

But we also heard some complaints. Karis Marie Saywers said: "Can't get my husbands application to process online. Tried calling, expected wait time 18mins, spent 2hrs on hold. No one ever answered."

Other viewers complain about non-technical issues, including unaffordable premiums and high deductibles.

Many people don't realize the federal site, Healthcare.gov - which has been plagued with design problems -  is a separate exchange from Washington state's.

Fifteen states plus the District of Columbia have their own health care exchanges. As far as success rates, the Pacific Northwest has one of the best and one of the worst.

On the state's Washington Healthplanfinder, more than 35,000 people have enrolled for healthcare coverage. Another 70,000 people have applied for coverage, but haven't yet submitted their payment to enroll.

Compare that to Oregon. Its exchange site, known as "Cover Oregon," has had zero enrollees because of technical glitches and had only received 1,300 paper applications, according to the latest numbers released. But the state has enrolled approximately 56,000 under Medicaid by sidestepping the site altogether.

According to a national study by the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of Americans say online healthcare exchanges are working fairly or very well; 46 percent say they are not.

Related links:

Washington Healthplanfinder

Healthcare.gov

Pew Research Center: Public registers bumpy launch of health care exchange websites

 

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