Special enrollment is here for health insurance in Washington

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging – and all of its impacts on jobs – many people suddenly need to get health insurance. Now, there’s a Special Enrollment Period for free or low-cost insurance through our state’s Affordable Care Act health exchange – Washington Healthplanfinder, where the cost of insurance is based on your income and family size.

The special enrollment is open from Feb. 15, 2021 through May 15. 

Health insurance Navigators will be available to help people understand the different insurance options and assist through the enrollment process. Public Health—Seattle & King County has its own team of Navigators, and it also manages a county-wide network that includes more than 300 Navigators, working for many Community Health Centers, hospitals, and human services agencies.

Navigators can assist by phone, online with virtual visits, at Zoom enrollment events, and even through in-person visits with protective screening, distancing and masks (more information below). You can learn more about plans and assistance from Public Health or browse plans and sign-up directly through Washington Healthplanfinder.

Who is eligible during the Special Enrollment Period:

  • Anyone who is currently uninsured
  • Anyone enrolled in other health insurance products – including short-term limited duration plans, health sharing ministries, or COBRA – who are seeking coverage alternatives (anyone not currently covered through Washington Healthplanfinder)
  • Anyone who was previously eligible for a 2021 Qualified Health Plan but has not chosen a plan
  • Customers whose coverage was cancelled for non-payment of their Qualified Health Plan
  • Current Washington Healthplanfinder enrollees who want to add an uninsured dependent to their existing Qualified Health Plan

Reminder: Enrollment is available year-round to individuals and families who qualify for coverage through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid).

Health insurance outdoor enrollment at Highland Park, using masks and screens
Health insurance enrollment goes outdoors at Highland Park, with COVID-19 protections

If you are currently enrolled in a Washington Healthplanfinder plan, you are not eligible to make changes during this period. This also means:

  • Customers may not voluntarily cancel their Washington Healthplanfinder coverage in order to change their plan
  • Customers enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan with no dental coverage may not use the Special Enrollment Period to enroll in a new Qualified Dental Plan

For more information – and for assistance with enrollment:

  • Call Public Health’s hotline (the Community Health Access Program (CHAP)) at 1-800-756-5437 
  • Email questions to:  Chap@kingcounty.gov
  • Find online answers to questions and learn about coverage at www.kingcounty.gov/coverage
  • In-person appointments at Federal Way Enrollment Storefront office (at 1640 South 318th Place, Federal Way), with hours Mon.-Thurs. 8:30-5 and Sat. 10-2.

To learn more about how Public Health has adapted to protect clients and staff from COVID-19, please see our blog post about the recent Open Enrollment period.

(Originally published February 15, 2021)