Open Enrollment Underway for Health Insurance in Washington Stat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Open Enrollment Underway for Health Insurance in Washington State

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KENNEWICK, WA - Enrollment is now open for health care under Washington's Health Care Exchange.

It's a part of the Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2014 requiring most U.S. citizens to have health insurance.

Washington Health Plan Finder now offers 148 different plans through 13 different insurance companies, including free or low-cost health care coverage.

The open enrollment period ends on January 31st, 2016.

State officials estimate more than 100,000 people in Washington are eligible for free health insurance through Washington's version of Medicaid, Apple Health, but haven't signed up.

As many as 35,000 people have signed up for health insurance outside the state exchange and may not know they would save money with a federal tax credit if they enrolled through Washington Healthplanfinder.

An estimated 250,000 other state residents do not have health insurance either through work or as an individual and may qualify for a tax credit through the exchange.

Those who don't have health insurance in 2016 - and aren't eligible for a hardship exemption - will face a penalty of $695 per person or 2.5 percent of annual income on their taxes for the year.

Links for help with enrollment:

Better Health Together

Washington Health Benefit Exchange

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner