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Shoppers Can Begin Buying Individual Health Plans

The open enrollment period for people wanting to buy health insurance began today (Wednesday) around the nation. In most states, those who don’t receive coverage through their employers will have until December 15 to buy insurance. That includes Idaho. Washington residents will have an extra month, although if they want their coverage to begin at the first of the year, they’ll need to purchase policies by December 15.

Stephanie Marquis from the Washington Insurance Commissioner’s office says 11 companies are offering 74 policies for individuals. Insurance plans are available in every county in the state, although choices are limited in some areas.

She suggests consumers go first to the state’s online exchange.

“Why you want to start with the exchange first is to see if you might qualify for financial assistance, either through lower premiums, tax credits or lower cost sharing, like lower deductibles. You have to do that through the exchange,” Marquis said.

If you prefer to talk with someone in person, Marquis says there are 13 centers around the state where shoppers can get help sifting through policies from trained brokers or navigators. Most of those are on the west side, but Spokane has a center at 1206 North Lincoln.