Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine celebrate opening of enrollment in Washington's Health Exchange at Carolyn Downs Family Clinic

October 1, 2013

Story 

Meet some of the first people in line to get health coverage

Seattle, WA – Today, Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine met some of the first people to get in line for health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder. Despite some technological bumps in the road, people were getting enrolled – through the website and via paper applications.

“This is a great day for individuals, for families, for businesses, and for the entire economy of Washington,” said Governor Inslee. “Health care reform is going to help us build a Working Washington where individuals are healthier, families are healthier, and communities are healthier.”

In Washington, nearly 1 million people are uninsured. Of those, more than half are expected to qualify for free or low-cost coverage through www.WAhealthplanfinder.org.

In King County, about 180,000 people are eligible for free or low-cost health coverage – that includes 1 in 6 people between the ages of 18 and 64 who are currently uninsured.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort,” said Executive Constantine. “We’ve mobilized every County agency with direct contact with the public to help us reach the ambitious goal of full enrollment, and through our partner organizations we’ve trained more than 500 In-Person Assisters, fluent in 34 languages, who will enroll the uninsured at 200 events and at hundreds of public places like libraries and community centers.”

Inslee this morning signed an executive order that, among other things, directs state agencies to find creative and cost-effective ways to get the word out about www.WAhealthplanfinder.org.

The Department of Licensing, for example, is working with the Exchange to send information about enrolling in health coverage with vehicle tab renewals, and the Employment Security Department is looking at ways to share information with those who file for unemployment in our state.

The Washington Health Care Authority is distributing Apple Health materials and posters to schools and libraries across the state as well as community groups and government offices that are interested in helping promote www.WAhealthplanfinder.org and Medicaid Expansion.

Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center was chosen, in part, because they have the highest rate of uninsured patients in the state; more than half of the clinic’s patients don’t have insurance.

“From our founding in 1968, Carolyn Downs has been committed to the ideal that healthcare is a right for all people, and today marks a beginning in making that ideal a reality,” said Linda McVeigh, Executive Director of County Doctor Community Health Centers, which includes Carolyn Downs.

People getting enrollment assistance at Carolyn Downs this morning included:

  • Heather New, a community college student working on her nursing program prerequisites.
  • Vera Johnson, a small business owner in White Center who was unable to afford insurance for herself and her daughter after she got divorced and the recession slashed her business earnings by two-thirds.
  • Benjamin Smith, who was struggling to make ends meet and couldn’t afford his own insurance, when a brain aneurysm sent him to Harborview.
  • Charles Jackson, who had insurance through his job until two hip-replacement surgeries forced him to stop working. At 64, he is not yet eligible for Medicare.

Their stories will be posted at www.coverageishere.wa.gov.

Also, there: How consumers can protect themselves against fraud
The official Washington state exchange is www.WAhealthplanfinder.org

Contacts: 

Office of the Governor
Jaime Smith
360-902-0617  |  Office of Governor Jay Inslee, Director of Media Relations – 360.902.0617

Ruth Schubert  |  Office of Governor Jay Inslee, Communications Manager for ACA Implementation – 360.480.2372

Christine Lange | King County Executive Communications Director – 206.263.9752

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Media Contact 

Office of the Governor
Jaime Smith
360-902-0617