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AARP AARP States Washington Health & Wellbeing

How to Sign Up for ACA Health Insurance in Washington

En español

What’s New for 2024 Open Enrollment

  • Key dates: Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024. 
  • Where to apply: Visit Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.
  • What’s changed: Undocumented immigrants are now eligible to buy insurance on the state marketplace.
Washignton Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder homepage

Am I eligible?

Everyone living in Washington state, regardless of immigration status, is eligible to buy insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Visit the marketplace website for more information.

Depending on your income and immigration status, you may qualify for Washington Apple Health (Medicaid), which offers free or low-cost coverage to low-income residents and their families. Children and pregnant individuals may qualify regardless of immigration status. For more information about Apple Health eligibility requirements, including income limits, visit the Washington State Health Care Authority website.

When is open enrollment? 

  • Open enrollment for 2024 coverage runs from Nov. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024. Because the Jan. 15 deadline falls on a federal holiday, you still may request coverage through Jan. 17 by calling Washington Healthplanfinder customer support toll-free at 855-923-4633. For coverage to begin on Jan  1, 2024, you must enroll by Dec. 15.
  • If you think there’s been an error in the enrollment process or have any other circumstances you’d like to discuss, call Washington Healthplanfinder customer support toll-free at 855-923-4633. You may qualify for coverage during a special enrollment period.

What if I miss open enrollment?

If you don’t qualify for year-round enrollment, you’ll only be able to buy health insurance after open enrollment if you experience a qualifying life event. Qualifying events include certain moves, births and adoptions, loss of employer-provided coverage, marriage, divorce and other special circumstances. In most situations, you’ll have 60 days from that event to enroll.

What’s changed for 2024?

Undocumented immigrants are now eligible to buy health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Although people without immigration papers or a green card will not be eligible for federal financial assistance, they may qualify for state-funded savings depending on their income and the plan they choose. Washington Healthplanfinder has more information about health care options for immigrants.

How do I sign up?

After you submit an application for coverage, you’ll receive an email invitation to select a plan online, by phone or in person. If you select a plan by the 15th of a month, your coverage will go into effect on the 1st of the following month. If you select a plan later in the month, your coverage will be delayed another month.

To apply and enroll: 

  • Online: Go to the Washington Healthplanfinder website and select Apply Now for information on choosing a plan, applying for savings and finding help. When you’re ready to apply, click the green Get Started button to log on to your account or create one. You can also download the WAPlanfinder app and apply from your mobile device. 
  • By phone: Call Washington Healthplanfinder customer support toll-free at 855-923-4633, where assistance is available in more than 200 languages. If you’re hard of hearing, call the TTY line at 855-627-9604. Customer support is available from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday (except holidays and the Friday after Thanksgiving) and until midnight on Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Saturday hours are available from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 16 and Jan. 14.

What is covered, and how much will it cost?

Coverage and cost depend on where you live, the type of plan you choose, your estimated household income, and the age and disability status of you and your family. 

If you qualify for Washington Apple Health, you’ll be able to get free or low-cost coverage and may not need to worry about premiums or copays, depending on your level of income. 

All Washington Healthplanfinder plans cover 10 essential benefits, including: 

  • Emergency services and hospitalization
  • Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use treatment
  • Chronic disease management
  • Prescription drugs
  • Lab work
  • Pediatric care
  • Preventive services, including counseling, screenings and vaccinations

Insurance companies cannot deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. When you apply, you can identify your medical needs and choose a plan that makes financial sense for you and your family. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs vary between plans.

Washington law requires children to have dental coverage. Dental is included for children and adults in Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) plans, but dental policies need to be purchased separately if you enroll in a Washington Healthplanfinder plan. You can select a dental coverage plan while shopping for your health plan.

What plans are available?

Washington Healthplanfinder offers several kinds of plans, including Cascade Care plans, developed exclusively for the state. The Cascade Care plans offer deductibles that are $1,000 lower on average, cover more services before your deductible is reached and offer the same out-of-pocket costs across all plans. All plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder, including Cascade Care plans, offer three tiers of coverage:

  • Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums, the highest deductibles and copays, and cover 60 to 65 percent of care costs.
  • Silver plans have moderate monthly premiums, deductibles and copays. They cover roughly 70 percent of care costs.
  • Gold plans have higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles and copays, and cover roughly 80 percent of care costs.

Washington Healthplanfinder’s Smart Planfinder tool helps you browse your options, estimate costs and benefits of various plans and check whether you might qualify for financial assistance.

Who is eligible for financial assistance for premiums?

The federal government increased tax credits for insurance premiums in 2021 and expanded the number of households that qualify for them. As a result, most people enrolled in ACA marketplace plans have seen their premiums go down. This expanded financial assistance is available through 2025.

  • If your annual income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($21,870 in 2024 for an individual and $45,000 for a family of four), you may be eligible for zero-premium coverage, depending on the plan you choose.
  • If your income is between 150 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (up to $58,320 for an individual and $78,880 for a couple), you are eligible for a premium subsidy. The amount depends on your income and your plan.
  • If your income exceeds the above limits, you can still get a premium subsidy if your monthly charge for the most popular silver plan would be more than 8.5 percent of your income. 

If you’re eligible, Washington Healthplanfinder will automatically apply the credits when you enroll.

Is there any other financial assistance available?

Yes. If you qualify for a premium tax credit, you may also qualify for a cost-sharing reduction that would help you pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, prescriptions and copays. You must enroll in a silver plan to get this assistance.

If you enroll in a Cascade Care silver or gold plan, you may also be eligible for Cascade Care Savings, which are state-funded savings on your premium. You’ll qualify if your household earns under 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($36,450 a year for a single person and $62,150 for a family of three). These savings are in addition to federal tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Washington Healthplanfinder will automatically apply the savings if you’re eligible.

What if I already have health insurance?

If you already have affordable coverage — through your job, for example — you most likely will not qualify for financial help offered through the marketplace plans.

If you are independently enrolled in a private health insurance plan, not through an employer, you may qualify for significant savings if you switch to a Washington Healthfinder plan. But you may need to wait until open enrollment begins.

If you were receiving temporary continuation of your health care coverage under COBRA, and that coverage has ended, you may be able to sign up for Washington Healthplanfinder during a 60-day special enrollment window. Try to apply and select your plan before your COBRA coverage ends to make sure there’s no gap in coverage.

If you already have a marketplace plan and want to adjust your coverage, you'll need to do so during open enrollment, unless you experience a qualifying life event.

Will I need to get a new doctor?

That depends. Major insurance providers offer Washington Healthfinder plans, but not all doctors accept them. You can use the Smart Planfinder tool to see whether a certain doctor or practice will accept a marketplace plan. The insurance company websites also include links to search for doctors in their networks. Networks can change, so you should double-check with your doctor before choosing a plan.

Will my family members qualify for the same health plan that I do?

It depends. Some family members may qualify for subsidies to enroll in a private health insurance plan while other family members qualify for public plans such as Apple Health. Family members in the same household may qualify for different programs because of their age, income, disability, caregiver status or immigration status. Such families may still be able to see the same doctor or go to the same medical practice, depending on the types of insurance plans accepted or whether their provider accepts Medicaid coverage.If you're not sure what makes the most sense for your family, get free advice from a certified insurance broker or assister.

This guide was updated on Nov. 9, 2023, with information about 2024 open enrollment.

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