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Starting today, open enrollment for health insurance begins under the Affordable Care Act. For the next six months, individuals, families and small businesses who currently do have health insurance can compare and purchase health plans through the state s online health insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org).

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is the public-private organization responsible for creating the Washington Healthplanfinder site, which was set to go live 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. (The site went down early in the morning and was still not working as of 1 p.m. Washington Healthplanfinder s CEO say they are investigating the cause.)

Michael Marchand, communications director for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, joined KING 5 Morning News to answer some questions submitted by KING 5 viewers about the health care changes:

  • I am on COBRA and what happens when I run out of it? Will I be able to sign up for it then or even get it now for less than my COBRA? I am paying around $600+ right now.
  • What if you have state medical? Does that automatically get cut?
  • Will it have medical and dental that people living on one income can afford?
  • How do I get started, and where is the best place to sign up?
  • Will prexisting conditions, chronic illnesses keep people from finding health insurance?
  • I have no insurance and currently have no job. I know very little of how this works...What about prescriptions? I am diabetic and very concerned that I will not be able to afford my expensive medication or insurance because I am not employed for the very first time in my life.
  • Is there anything to offer at no cost? What are people that have no income supposed to do?
  • How does this affect independent contractors (i.e. gardeners, real estate agents)?

Trained representatives with Washington Healthplanfinder will also be available by phone to answer questions. Call toll-free at 1-855-WAFINDER (923-4633) Mon.- Fri. 7:30am-8:00pm.

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