Health Care Reform: What it means for Northwest Washington

Issues: Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (sometimes known as Obamacare) was enacted in March 2010. This page explains how the law affects people in Northwest Washington.

Northwest Washington is already seeing the improvements from the new health care law. Between January and July of this year, seniors in Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties saved an average of $1,030 per person on prescription drugs. Nearly 34,000 kids and 150,000 adults in our area now have health insurance that covers preventive care like check-ups and cancer screenings without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles.

The centerpiece of this law, the health care marketplaces, open for business this fall, with new insurance options available to thousands of people in Northwest Washington.

Check out this video from the Kaiser Family Foundation for a better understanding of the Affordable Care Act and how it impacts you:

So how does health care reform affect me?

Have more questions?

Call the Health Exchange Call Center at 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633) and speak with someone weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement is coordinating outreach for Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. Visit the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement to meet with someone in person. They are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you or a family member needs help connecting with the right resource, please call my offices in Everett or Bellingham. Visit my contact page for more information.

I do not have health insurance

The Affordable Care Act created marketplaces where individuals and families can shop online for different insurance plans. You may be eligible for subsidies that will reduce the cost of coverage. For more information and to find out if you are eligible for a subsidy, visit

Open enrollment for 2014 has ended. However, some changes in life circumstances allow you to sign up for coverage outside of open enrollment. Visit to learn more. Please note that enrollment in Apple Health (Medicaid) is available year-round.

You can also speak with a live person about what options are available to you by calling the Health Exchange Call Center at 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633).

I have health insurance through  my employer

If you have questions about your health coverage, contact your Human Resources office. For further information about other health insurance options, call the Health Exchange Call Center (1-855-923-4633) or the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (360-788-6594).

I am a small business owner

The Affordable Care Act provides resources for small businesses to help them provide health insurance for their employees.  For  more information visit

I am enrolled in or will soon be eligible for Medicare

The Affordable Care Act improved coverage for seniors enrolled in Medicare. Medicare recipients do not need to visit the exchange but can continue to correspond directly with Medicare. For more information visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

I am on Medicaid (Washington Apple Health)

In Washington state, Medicaid is known as Washington Apple Health and Washington Apple Health for Kids. Washington State is expanding eligibility for Apple Health. To find out if you are eligible or to enroll, visit or call the Washington State Health Care Authority at 1-800-562-3022.

I am enrolled in TRICARE

The Affordable Care Act has no direct effect on TRICARE. Most TRICARE coverage meets the minimum essential coverage requirement of the law, but you can check your coverage here.

I am a military veteran and receive care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

The Affordable Care Act has no direct effect on the VA health system.  If you have questions about your benefits, visit

I am receiving care through the Indian Health Services (IHS)

The Affordable Care Act gives American Indians more health care options. Depending on your eligibility you can enroll in coverage through Medicaid or a qualified health plan through the Exchange, or continue receiving health services through the IHS.

For more information, visit

My insurance plan was cancelled

President Obama expanded the hardship exemption from the individual mandate to include individuals with cancelled plans. The Healthplanfinder has detailed information about your option to apply for this exemption and whether it may be helpful to you.

I think I may qualify for an exemption from the individual mandate

There are a number of ways to qualify for an exemption from the individual mandate. You can find out about those options here. The hardship exemption must be approved in advance of tax filing time in April 2015. The form is available here. If you are applying for the exemption based on affordability, membership in a health care sharing ministry, membership in a federally-recognized tribe, or being incarcerated, you can claim these exemptions when you fill out your 2014 federal tax return, or with the forms available under the “How to apply for an exemption” heading on