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Medicaid applicants account for most of new health plan enrollments

As of the end of November, a total of 179,330 state residents completed enrollment for health care coverage through the Washington Healthplanfinder.

However, all but about 20,000 of those are Medicaid recipients.

Of the 20,000 applications enrolled in a qualified health plan not funded through Medicare, only about 4,000 are not receiving tax credits of any kind for insurance coverage.

That’s according to an update released last week by officials with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

The disparity is even larger in Yakima County, where 8,433 residents completed applications in October and November with the healthcare exchange. Of that total, more than 8,000 are actually for Medicaid plans.

Also of concern is that few of the non-Medicare applications in Washington state were submitted by younger residents.

Of the 20,000 paid or partially subsidized health care enrollees in Washington state, less than a third are younger than 35 years of age.

At the time of its launch, Obama administration officials noted a large number of younger, healthy applicants would be needed to pay into the system to help fund the healthcare act.

There is potentially some better news for the health plan system, in that another nearly 54,000 applicants have received their eligibility for a qualified health plan. However, they still need to submit payment to begin coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.

“We were pleased to see the growth in private health plan enrollment last month,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “With 53,000 individuals close to completing the process, we believe enrollment in these plans will grow exponentially as we move toward the Dec. 23 deadline for coverage that begins on Jan. 1.”

At the same time, Washington Healthplanfinder staff are still addressing website issues that are preventing individuals from completing the enrollment process.

The last week or so has seen the healthplanfinder website shut down temporarily for maintenance and repairs, preventing potential applicants from completing the process.

“We want our customers to know that we are doing everything we can to move all applications through the enrollment process that are submitted by Dec. 23,” said Onizuka, who noted the state has also added call center staff.

He added that Washingtonians may also enroll through March 31, 2014 if they are not seeking coverage beginning Jan. 1. He says that will meet the requirement to obtain health insurance this year under the Affordable Care Act.

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