Health Plan Call Center for Washington Opens in Spokane

By Steve Jackson

Washington state residents eligible to take advantage of health insurance through the state’s Health Benefit Exchange can now get telephone assistance on their options. Tuesday, the Health Benefit Exchange opened the phone center for it’s customer support program in Spokane.

The open enrollment period begins October 1st for the plans that go into effect January 1st. That call center will handle questions from all state residents who have question about benefits available under the Affordable Care Act. CEO of the Exchange, Richard Onizuka, says they anticipate the center will be very busy.

Onizuka: “We opened at 7:30 this morning and took 100 calls in the fist hour, and I was walking around asking people what kind of calls are you getting. It’s the whole range. What’s going to be happening in October, what is the cost, what’s the penalty for the individual mandate, what am I required to do?”

Onizuka says there are about one million state residents that have no health insurance. About forty percent of that number will now be eligible for Medicaid, depending on their income, and thousands more will be able to get specific answers to their questions about which of the Health Insurance providers approved by the state can best meet their needs. He says even folks who currently have health insurance can call to find out if one of the state approved plans can offer better coverage.

People can also visit to find specifics about the plans available, and there is a calculator to determine how much the plans will cost, depending on their income. Onizuka says people may be surprised to learn how affordable the plans are. He says those making up tom 400 percent of the official poverty level will be eligible for financial assistance.

Onizuka: “At that highest level, 400 percent, that’s about 45,000 for an individual, about 94,000 for a family of four, so below those income levels you will qualify for financial assistance.”

The call center is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, and will be able to serve a number of customers in various languages. The phone number is 1-855-WAFINDER, or 855-923-4633.

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