Annaberies Colmena, a patient navigator, sits behind an open enrollment flyer at Sea Mar on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Annaberies Colmena, a patient navigator, sits behind an open enrollment flyer at Sea Mar on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Enrollment open as noncitizens can buy health insurance in Washington

Snohomish County ranks sixth in the state for percentage of residents who have health insurance, behind King and Skagit counties.

EVERETT — All people in Washington can have health insurance coverage in 2024, regardless of immigration status. The final deadline to enroll or change plans is Jan. 15.

Snohomish County ranks sixth in the state for percentage of residents who have health insurance, behind King, Island and Skagit counties among others, according to 2022 census data.

About 7% of people under 65 in the county didn’t have health insurance last year. Census data shows the north Lynnwood area as the least-insured population in the county, with 13.5% of people uninsured. East Bothell residents had the highest rate of people with health insurance coverage, at 98.7%.

Plans are available through the state’s online health insurance market, Washington Healthplanfinder. The site’s “Virtual Help” page can connect people to resources, including local health plan navigators and enrollment centers.

It’s too late to enroll in a health plan that starts Jan. 1. That deadline was Dec. 15. However, people can still enroll or change plans for coverage starting Feb. 1.

Federal law had barred undocumented immigrants from purchasing health care plans through state exchanges. More than 105,000 people — nearly a quarter of the state’s uninsured population — do not have health insurance access in Washington due to their immigration status, according to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

But last year, the federal government approved an innovation waiver for Washington to expand insurance access to all noncitizens. Previously, undocumented children and pregnant women in Washington could get coverage through Apple Health, the state’s version of Medicare. The state also offered “Alien Emergency Medical” programs for noncitizens in severe or life-threatening emergencies.

The waiver is the latest move toward improving health equity across the state.

In 2021, the state introduced Cascade Care plans with lower deductibles and more service coverage before deductibles are met. The next year, the state rolled out Cascade Care Savings for those making 250% of the federal poverty level or less. Most who qualify for Cascade Care Savings can buy a “high-quality” plan for less than $10 a month, and as low as $0 a month, according to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

“Thanks to generous federal and state subsidies, people of low and moderate income can now find very affordable private, qualified health plans,” Ingrid Ulrey, the exchange’s CEO, said in a press release.

Apple Health has year-round enrollment through Washington Healthplanfinder.

People can reach the Washington Healthplanfinder support center at 1-855-923-4633. The center is open from 7:30 a.m.­ to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Additional open hours:

• Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m; and

• Jan. 15, from 7:30 a.m. to midnight.

The Washington Healthplanfinder site also has a zip code search for local navigators who can help with plans for no extra cost. A search for zip code 98026, which includes the north Lynnwood area, had 49 results including navigators who speak Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish.

Sydney Jackson: 425-339-3430; sydney.jackson@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @_sydneyajackson.

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