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Executive Constantine opens new health care Enrollment Center, urges uninsured to get coverage

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November 1, 2017 – King County Executive Dow Constantine opened the Federal Way Enrollment Center, one of two full service offices across the state to help people find the right health insurance plan. Despite federal efforts to kill health reform, King County remains one of the nation’s top Affordable Care Act success stories.

Ignore the confusing national news about health insurance – and come get enrolled now. That’s the message for local residents from King County Executive Dow Constantine and other local leaders.

“People need to know that Washington’s health insurance exchange is going strong, and we are going even further with the successful outreach strategies that have helped us cut the rate of uninsured by 60 percent,” said Constantine. “The fact is, there are more than 20 health insurance plans to choose from in King County, and most people qualify for a tax credit to keep the prices affordable. No matter what happens in the other Washington, we are moving forward, and keeping people healthy and secure.” 

A national debate over subsidies has obscured the fact that most middle class families qualify for a tax credit to offset the cost of premiums. And, while the federal government is cutting back on advertising and on Navigators (the insurance experts who help people enroll), King County and Washington state are moving forward by:

-Offering a wide range of insurance plans and low-cost options
-Maintaining a fully-staffed Navigator and outreach program
-Maintaining the state’s advertising budget
-Adding new enrollment assistance sites
-Extending the enrollment period. The deadline is Jan. 15 in Washington, not the national deadline of Dec. 15.

In addition to the Navigators at the Federal Way Public Health Clinic, King County will open a new, full service “storefront” enrollment center in Federal Way.

The state Health Exchange’s call center will direct people there to get hands-on help. Federal Way was chosen for one of the state’s only storefront enrollment centers because the city and the surrounding cities have higher concentrations of people who remain uninsured – and may benefit the most from enrollment assistance.

King County also maintains a list of sites where people can meet with a Navigator around the county, and people can find a private insurance broker through the Healthplanfinder website.

“Our Navigators will be at enrollment sites daily – and they will be available at community centers, coffee shops, colleges, and shopping malls. We’ve demonstrated over the past four years how targeted outreach makes a difference for people who might be confused or uncertain about purchasing health insurance,” said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, which is the lead organization for coordinating Navigators locally.

Health insurance obtained now will be valid throughout 2018, no matter what happens in Congress. Having health insurance is a key part of having access to the benefits of our health care system, from preventive care like immunizations, to challenges like a muscle sprain, to emergencies.

After Open Enrollment closes on Jan. 15, the Trump administration could make it harder for people to get insurance. For example, even during Open Enrollment, the federal website is being periodically shut-down “for maintenance.”
Health insurance coverage has improved in King County across all income levels, all age groups and for all races and ethnicities, since implementation of the Affordable Care Act. More than 94 percent of working adults are now insured — the highest levels ever, and more than 98 percent of children are now covered.

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