Health benefit exchange call center opens

September 3, 2013 

A customer support center has opened to help people navigate Washington Healthplanfinder, the new online marketplace for health insurance.

The Spokane-based center is open to callers from around the state, with assistance available in up to 175 languages, a news release said.

The toll free number is 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633), with representatives available 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays.

People also can e-mail customersupport@wahbexchange.org.

“Our trained experts will ensure Washingtonians learn about and have access to the new health coverage options available through Washington Healthplanfinder,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, in a news release.

The exchange is a public-private partnership that formed to create the marketplace.

Washington residents will be able to start enrolling in health plans through Washington Healthplanfinder on Oct. 1, with coverage beginning in January.

The federal Affordable Care Act requires most people to have health insurance next year or pay a penalty. States are to have an exchange in place by Jan. 1; they can leave the creation to the federal government, partner with the feds or move ahead with a state-based exchange, as Washington has chosen to do.

In addition to the customer support center, the Exchange has picked 10 agencies around the state to coordinate networks of “in-person assisters” in their areas to provide education and help with enrollment.

The Pasco-based Community Action Connections is the lead organization here. To check out where in-person assisters can be accessed in the Tri-City area, go to http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/map.php.

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