Thousands Begin New Year with New Health Care Coverage - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Thousands Begin New Year with New Health Care Coverage

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Thousands of people can toast to good health this new year with health care coverage starting Wednesday under the Affordable Care Act. Thousands of people can toast to good health this new year with health care coverage starting Wednesday under the Affordable Care Act.

KENNEWICK, WA - Thousands of people can toast to good health this new year with health care coverage starting Wednesday under the Affordable Care Act.

The more than 200,000 people who signed up for a plan using the state's healthplanfinder website can now access those benefits starting Wednesday.

"Many people may have never been able to access healthcare coverage because they had a preexisting condition or it just wasn't affordable for them. This is really a whole new day in healthcare for people in our state," said Bethany Frey, Washington Health Benefits Exchange.

When enrollment began October 1st, Community Action Connections in Pasco immediately received a flood of calls from people looking for answers about health care.

"We're getting calls. We're getting walk-ins. Consumers want to know where they can get insurance. They've expressed to us that frankly they never would've seen themselves in a situation where they've needed healthcare insurance and here they are," said Wes Luckey, Community Action Connections.

Many people who signed up before the December 23rd deadline have their insurance card and are ready to go. But others are still signing up to meet a January 15th deadline and receive coverage retroactively beginning Wednesday January 1st.

"They should be on the look out to see communication from us about how to bypass any issues they're having with their application. They'll actually need to notify us that they're still interested in January 1st coverage and need to complete their plan selection and submit payment by the 15th," Frey said.

If you're still working on your application, don't be surprised if you have to pay some bills early this month.

"If they go and try to pick up a prescription or if they visit the doctor, they have to pay some of those expenses out of pocket, but then they'll be reimbursed for those benefits under their health plan," Frey said.

Some reminders if you didn't sign up for coverage starting this month, you can sign up by the 23rd of January, February and March to receive coverage beginning the following month. The final date to get your application in for the year is March 31st.

You'll need to put on your tax return that you have health care coverage to avoid a new penalty by the IRS.

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