An Eatonville-based organization is among eight community agencies in Pierce County that have been designated as sources of one-on-one assistance in helping people choose healthcare plans under the national Affordable Care Act.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange last week unveiled details of its customer support program for Washington Healthplanfinder, the way that officials said individuals and businesses can find, compare and enroll in health insurance starting Oct. 1.
The WExchange is a public-private partnership established through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) to create a new health insurance marketplace. The Exchange is separate from the state and governed by an independent, 11-member board appointed by then-governor Chris Gregoire in 2011.
The support effort, which includes local in-person assistance services at community agencies, a toll-free customer support call center, insurance brokers and online help, will focus on new types of health coverage options and financial help that will be offered to qualifying consumers.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is one of 10 lead organizations that the Exchange selected to train and coordinate local in-person assisters. Through community agencies, including Eatonville Family Agency, help will be available for Pierce County residents who mighty not use a web site or call center for information, officials said.
Eatonville Family Agency will host a a free community workshop at Eatonville Community Center (located at 305 W. Center St.) on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. to provide information and answer questions.
Other agencies in Pierce County that also are designated assisters include Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Community Health Care, Comprehensive Health Education Foundation/Salishan Health Advocates, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Point Defiance AIDS Project/NASEN, Sea Mar Community Health Centers and South Sound Outreach.
“Our shared goal is to let everyone in Pierce County know about the new health plans and financial help that will be available and encourage them to get coverage,” said Beth Wilson, customer support program manager.
Statewide, the Exchange is partnering with nearly 100 community organizations, including public health agencies, coalitions and regional health networks, to begin education and enrollment efforts in their local areas this fall.
A toll-free Customer Support Center – available in up to 175 languages spoken by trained representatives – is operating on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. 1-855-923-4633). Inquiries can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials said all health plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder meet strict benefit and quality standards, and cover essential benefits including doctor visits, hospital stays, prescriptions, and regular check-ups. An individual making up to $45,000 and a family of four making up to $94,000 a year may qualify for financial help toward premiums and co-pays, officials said. Free and low-cost coverage is also available.