Washington health care exchange: Saturday is cutoff date for Feb. 1 coverage

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The Washington Health Benefit Exchange said that Saturday, Jan. 23, is the deadline to sign up for a health plan  through wahealthplanfinder.org that begins on Feb. 1.

Customers who sign up after Saturday and through the end of open enrollment (Jan. 31) will only be able to get coverage that takes effect March 1.

It also said that individuals and families should be aware that tax penalties for not having health insurance have increased in 2016. Adults who remain without health coverage now face individual penalties of at least $695, and families could be asked to pay upwards of $2,000.

The Exchange is informing individuals and families who have not yet signed up for a Qualified Health Plan that they need to take immediate action to avoid the tax penalty. Residents can do this by visiting Washington Healthplanfinder to review their health plan options and determine their eligibility for financial help that may reduce the cost of coverage.

“We want customers to begin receiving coverage as soon as possible,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Residents who shop for options and sign up by the Jan. 23 deadline can avoid the expected rush that occurs the last week of open enrollment while also ensuring that they have health coverage for February.”