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Demand for health insurance in King County still growing, as end-of-year surge begins

The demand for affordable health insurance remains high in King County, as 80,000 residents have either enrolled or applied for coverage since the new insurance exchange launched on Oct. 1.

They’re signing up for insurance that’s free or affordably priced, through Washington Healthplanfinder.

Lines of people seeking help have become common at sites in King County where specially trained assisters are offering guidance.

“King County is leading the nation in healthcare enrollment, thanks to our ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a press release. “The word now is: Anyone who wants coverage to start in January needs to purchase a private plan by this coming Monday, Dec. 23.”

The county is using all branches of government, along with private businesses and volunteers, to promote enrollment.  In addition, Public Health – Seattle & King County is leading a network of In-Person Assisters, from a network of health centers and community groups, to help anyone with a barrier to using the online enrollment system.

“This will give me peace of mind,” Gary Flaten of Seattle, one of the local residents who enrolled, said in a press release. “Being 64 and not having health insurance can give you a little anxiety. That is one anxiety I don’t have to worry about now.”

Key enrollment dates

The open enrollment period extends through Mar. 31, 2014. Those qualifying for Apple Health, the expanded Medicaid program, can enroll at any time.

However, the Monday, Dec. 23 deadline is important for anyone whose current insurance plan is expiring or transitioning into a different plan. In order to avoid a gap in coverage, they need to enroll now. Those who purchase a private plan by next Monday will have full coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2014.

Best ways to enroll:

1. Through the online Healthplanfinder site (www.wahealthplanfinder.org), where individuals can type in some basic information and compare different insurance plans based on price, co-pays and which medical providers they include

2. Having trouble with the website? Use Healthplanfinder’s Help-Line, at 1-855-923-4633

3. King County’s network of In-Person Assisters is available. You can get a tailored list of locations via text message or view a list online by city. Some of the upcoming opportunities in Renton include: 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at Valley Cities Counseling, 221 Wells Ave. S.

-from a press release

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