9/1/2014

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Politics

Day 3: Wash. health insurance finder doing better

Day 3: Wash. health insurance finder doing better
Brad Finnegan demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state's new health insurance exchange seemed to be running more smoothly Thursday, its third day of operation

The state took down its wahealthplanfinder.org website the night before and made some technical improvements. The site reopened Thursday morning and appeared to be working faster and with fewer problems.

Comments on social media were still dominated by complaints, including slow loading times and trouble completing online applications. But some Washington residents were starting to say they got through online and have checked out their options.

More than 170,000 people visited the site Tuesday, its first day of operation. Data on how many people have signed up for insurance won't be available until Friday.

Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said officials continue to work on improving the site.

"Today, we will continue to monitor how the website performs and make additional changes as necessary," he said in a statement.

Onizuka reminded Washington they have until Dec. 23 to enroll in coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2013.

In addition to the online marketplace, Washington residents can sign up by telephone or in person. Officials say it takes about an hour to go through the process for an individual and a little longer for a family.

The state estimates about 1 million Washington residents lack health insurance. That's about one in seven people.

The state hopes to enroll 130,000 people for health insurance in 2014 and another 280,000 in 2015. Another 325,000 people will be eligible to sign up for free insurance through Medicaid.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people who have no insurance in 2014 will pay a fine when they file their federal income taxes in early 2015. The fines for people who ignore the new law are scheduled to increase over time.

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Contact Donna Blankinship at https://twitter.com/dgblankinship

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Online:

Washington Healthplanfinder: http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org

On the telephone:

1-855-923-4633 on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Feedback by email:

customersupport@wahbexchange.org

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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