Open Enrollment for 2016 health plans on wahealthplanfinder.org is November 2015 through January 2016.
OLYMPIA – Two years after the launch of Washington state’s health insurance marketplace, the uninsured rate in the state has dropped to an all-time low of 6.4%. Even so, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians still lack health insurance. Furthermore, Thurston County’s uninsured rate, at 8.4%, is higher the state average, meaning that more than 20,000 Thurston residents are living without insurance, according to the American Community Survey (2014).
Surprisingly, half of the people who don’t have health insurance in Thurston County work full- or part-time jobs. Some uninsured people are small businesses owners and employees, and others are working in part-time or temporary positions where they may not be eligible for employer coverage. Unfortunately, anyone who does not purchase a health plan this year will have a tax penalty of $695 per adult or 2.5% of annual household income, whichever is greater.
Having healthy and happy employees is an obvious asset to any business. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, work place health programs benefit employers through enhanced productivity, decreased absenteeism, and lower insurance and workers’ compensation cost.
Luckily, Washington businesses have several options to help their employees gain health insurance, in addition to the traditional process.
Options for Businesses
- Employers can connect their workers to Navigators who can help them shop and sign up for an affordable health plan on the state exchange website. CHOICE Regional Health Network, a local nonprofit, manages a network of trained, certified Navigators who provide free assistance to help community members enroll into health insurance.
CHOICE’s network of Navigators will be available for free in-person assistance at various public locations around the region. CHOICE staff is also offering free on-site information and enrollment sessions for local businesses. These free sessions are a great way for business owners to offer another benefit to their employees without affecting their bottom line.
Contact Lindsey Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CHOICE Navigator page to schedule a session. Visit http://crhn.org/pages/events/ to find out where and when Navigators will be available for public assistance.
- Small businesses (fewer than 25 employees) may be eligible for tax credits to help with the cost of health care coverage for their employees. In order to receive a health care tax credit, a business must:
- Have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
- Pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year
- Pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums
- Purchase through Healthplanfinder Business
- Businesses with up to 50 employees can provide coverage for their employees through Healthplanfinder Business as well. By purchasing through Healthplanfinder Business, employers have more purchasing power for getting reduced rates for health insurance.
If your family or business needs more information about free health insurance assistance, visit http://crhn.org/pages/choice_projects/in-person-assisternavigator-program/ or call 844-446-4367.
If you are seeking to enroll employees through Healthplanfinder Business, visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org and click on “Cover Your Employees” on the right hand side of the page.
About CHOICE Regional Health Network
CHOICE Regional Health Network is a nonprofit collaborative of member organizations dedicated to improving community health in Central Western Washington through collective planning and action of health care leaders. For more information, visit: http://www.crhn.org.