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Open enrollment for all individual heath insurance plans in Washington state – whether purchased inside or outside Washington’s Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder – ends March 31. If you need coverage by April 1, you must apply by March 23. If you apply after March 23, your coverage will begin May 1.
“If you need health insurance this year, do not wait until the end of March to enroll,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Delaying could leave you uninsured for another month.”
Enrollment periods are common for people who get their insurance through their employer, but they’re new for the individual market. In the past, people could buy health insurance whenever they needed it as long as they could pass a health screen.
Now, under the federal Affordable Care Act, you cannot be denied health insurance but you must buy coverage during a limited period of time. This is designed to prevent people from buying health insurance only when they need it. Special enrollment periods may apply if you have a qualifying event. If you experience one of these events, you generally have 60 days to buy coverage.
The following qualifying events apply to all individual health plans, both inside and outside the Exchange (Washington Healthplanfinder):
These additional qualifying events may apply if you bought your coverage through the Exchange (www.wahealthplanfinder.org):
Washington’s Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment is year-round. If you think you might qualify, go to www.wahealthplanfinder.org.