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Washington Health Exchange Back Up After Being Down — Again

Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

The holiday frenzy isn’t the only deadline looming.

For people who expect to have health coverage when the new year starts, the deadline to enroll for a health plan is December 23.

But signing up through the state’s health exchange has been rough for the last several days. As of Tuesday morning, the site is back up and running.

Michael Marchand of the state’s health exchange admitted these recent glitches might discourage some people from enrolling before the deadline.  “There are still some skeptical people out there with regard to, maybe not just what the products are but whether or not the site is stable enough for them to use it,” Marchand said. “We may see a big influx late January, February, into end of March deadline.”

March is the second deadline to sign up for health coverage or pay a federal tax penalty. But waiting until March means coverage won’t kick in until May.

The state exchange has been so focused on fixing the technical issues that it hasn’t been able to provide local partners with enrollment information.

Jennifer DeYoung is an analyst with Seattle-King County Public Health, one of the agencies doing outreach work. She said those details help them figure out who’s enrolling and who might need more attention or help.

“We really are looking forward to getting more details from the state to better understand — are we attracting the young adults, or are those who are enrolling older adults, or what are the different demographics: what are their race, ethnicity, the income levels of the folks enrolling?” DeYoung said.

Meantime, the county is sticking with its original game plan — they’re going into communities that are known to have high numbers of uninsured people. This Friday, it’s teaming up with the state exchange at an enrollment event at Stevens Pass Ski Resort. They hope to sign up an estimated 600 part-time or seasonal workers who are not covered by the resort.

Year started with KUOW: 1994