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Not too late to enroll in Washington health insurance plan for fall

If you lost your job — and with it, your health insurance — it’s not too late to make sure you’re protected for a fall flu season that coincides with a global pandemic.

Washington state officials are reminding everyone there is still time to enroll in health coverage for the rest of the year through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange before the Sept. 30 deadline.

The Benefit Exchange helps people enroll in Apple Health — the state’s Medicaid — if they qualify, or to find a private health plan that they can afford.

To be eligible for Apple, you must have made under 138% of the federal poverty level when filing your last tax return. The federal poverty level is $26,200 per year for a family of four or $12,760 for a single person, so a family of four bringing in under $36,150 or a single person making under $17,600 would qualify for Apple.

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If your previous income was too high to qualify for Apple, but not high enough to comfortably afford health care, there may still be help available to you.

“If you’re anywhere from 138% of the federal poverty level all the way to 400%, you would be eligible to receive some kind of financial assistance from the federal government to offset the cost of your premium,” said Michael Marchand, chief marketing officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

That means a family of four could make up to $104,800 and still receive federal aid. A family of three could make up to $86,900, two people could make up to $69,000, and a single person could make up to $51,000. This aid comes in the form of a tax credit.

“Average household monthly premium, if you didn’t get a subsidy, last year was close to $730,” Marchand said. “But for many people, with that tax assistance, they would get, on average, $500 off.”

Staff at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange can help advise you about your tax credit options when you’re looking for a plan.

Marchand observed that, on average, it tends to be younger people who choose to forego the extra expense of health insurance, believing that nothing medically serious will come their way for some time. With the coronavirus pandemic, however, this is changing.

“Eighteen to 34, those are the folks that we know that are out there who are really looking hard at, ‘Hey, I’m scared now, all of a sudden the invincibility of my health has been challenged with this pandemic, and I know I really need to get some kind of insurance. What do I need and how am I going to afford it?'” Marchand said.

To enroll or get advice about your options, contact the Washington Health Benefit Exchange at 1-855-923-4633.

“The COVID situation has elevated the need for people to be insured … it’s super important to get health insurance right now,” Marchand said. “There is no more important time.”

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