Buying an individual health plan
Individual coverage is health insurance for you and/or your family members. You can buy individual health plans during specific time periods called "open enrollment periods."
Open enrollment period
Unless you qualify for a special enrollment period, the standard open enrollment period for 2015 plans is closed. The 2016 plan open enrollment occurs Nov. 1, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
In Washington state, you can buy individual coverage:
- Through the Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) - An online marketplace where you can compare plans and get help paying your premium, depending on your income.
Note: The Washington Healthplanfinder announced a special open enrollment period from Feb. 17 to April 17, 2015, for people who either had trouble enrolling or renewing or who were unaware they would have to pay a tax penaly if they didn't have coverage this year.
- Directly from a health insurance company - Additional health plans are available outside of the Washington Healthplanfinder, but if you buy directly from an insurance company, you won't get help paying your premium.
Some individual health plans may not be available where you live. View our map of individual health plans and their rates by county.
Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment period
Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment is open all year long. See if you qualify or renew your coverage through the Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org) or by calling 855-923-4633.
Special enrollment periods
If you need coverage outside of open enrollment, see if you have a qualifying event for special enrollment.
What determines how much you'll pay in premiums
- Your age and the age of any family member on your plan
- Whether or not you smoke
- The size of your family (how many people you want to cover)
- Where you live
- The deductible amount
- The benefits in your health plan
- The amount of your IRS premium tax credit subsidy (www.irs.gov) if you apply for coverage through the Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org).
Health reform and individual plans
Individual health insurers:
- Cannot limit or deny you benefits if you or a family member have a pre-existing medical condition.
- Must include in the plans they offer a standard set of essential benefits (www.healthcare.gov), such as prescription drugs, maternity care, lab services, etc.