Get help signing up for health plans during Bellingham ‘Get Covered Day’

Whatcom County residents can get help enrolling in health care coverage on Saturday, Dec. 6, at Interfaith Community Health Center.

Called “Get Covered Day,” the event runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 220 Unity St. in Bellingham.

“Our goal is to enroll 200 people,” said Kristin Robak, outreach and enrollment supervisor with Interfaith Community Health Center.

Interfaith was among the organizations selected to help people sign up for health coverage. Under Obamacare, most people must have health insurance or face a fine in 2015 of about $325 per person or 2 percent of income.

This sign-up period was the second for a key piece of the federal health law.

The open enrollment period for private health insurance through the state exchange runs through Feb. 15. However, individuals have only until Dec. 23 to pick and pay for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

Robak wants consumers to know they can get financial help to lower the cost of their health plans.

About 86 percent of residents who bought plans through the state’s exchange, or insurance marketplace at Washington Healthplanfinder, received such assistance, according to the October Health Enrollment Coverage Report.

People who signed up for a health plan last year must renew their coverage for 2015 during the open-enrollment period.

The Dec. 6 event will include refreshments, entertainment and prizes, organizers said.

There also will be plenty of information and help for individuals and business owners. One-on-one help will come from what’s called in-person assisters, as well as from insurance brokers and health plan carriers.

To sign up for a health plan that day, people should bring the following information and documents:

• Names, dates of birth and social security numbers for all household members.

• Proof of household income.

• Immigration documents, if applicable.

People don’t need to make a reservation for the event but they should set aside at least one hour to get information and sign up for a plan, organizers said.

More than 600,000 state residents have enrolled in private health plans or were able to sign up for Medicaid because of expanded eligibility, according to the October Health Enrollment Coverage Report. Those were the latest overall figures available prior to the start of open enrollment.

That breaks down to 6,349 Whatcom County residents who signed up for health plans and 15,524 new adults in Medicaid.

Consumers and businesses also can find information and buy plans through the state’s insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder.

Enrollment in Washington Healthplanfinder Business and Medicaid (Washington Apple Health) can be done year-round.