From the Desk of Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange
It is hard to believe that today marks one month into our six month open enrollment period for quality health care coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder. The past 31 days have been historic, exciting, and challenging.
With four weeks behind us, our State has been able to enroll nearly 50,000 individuals, families and small businesses in new health insurance options with access to financial help, as well as draw nearly 70,000 additional applicants who have completed applications that are awaiting payment due in December. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see this level of interest from residents here in Washington.
While our roll-out hasn’t been perfect, thousands of families will now be able to access health care for the first time starting Jan. 1, 2014. The true success of our project is not in the technology behind our online system or a polished advertising campaign, but in the direct impact these new benefits can have for our friends, family and neighbors.
One of those individuals who comes to mind is Jessica Lawson, a woman who was able to enroll in health coverage during our mobile enrollment tour kick-off in Spokane. Before these new benefits were available, Jessica was unable to access medical coverage or her needed medication for two years. Her story, like many across the state, is unique and inspiring. It’s what this effort is all about.
Many have asked what success will ultimately look like for Washington Healthplanfinder. We’ll have more comprehensive information about enrollment numbers in early January, but the good news is that we still have five months to continue to drive awareness and get residents here covered.
Looking forward, our immediate goals are to iron out bugs and error codes that have complicated the application process for some of our customers, as well as alleviate wait times at our Customer Support Center by adding new staff members over the next several weeks. We know the experience has been frustrating for these customers and we are committed to doing better. We will continue to monitor our system and make improvements as needed.
Thank you again to everyone on this distribution who has added to this project’s success. Let’s continue this great work together.