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Washington Health Benefit Exchange and Expanded Medicaid (Apple Care)

What You Need To Know

The Affordable Care Act is a key healthcare initiative enabling nearly all persons to obtain health insurance coverage at an affordable rate and, in some instances, at no cost. The Affordable Care Act was created to ensure that all persons can obtain access to the healthcare they need. Persons cannot be denied health insurance coverage due to a sickness or prior health issue.

To obtain Washington Health Benefit Exchange coverage that starts on January 1, 2016, you can start signing up on November 1, 2015. The 2016 open enrollment period will end on January 31, 2016.

Apple Health Medicaid enrollments or renewals are continuous throughout the year.

To help you find a health insurance plan, Washington State has set up the Health Benefit Exchange website (wahealthplanfinder.org). This website can help you:

  • Find and sign up for the health insurance plan that is best for you or your family.
    • Based on your earnings, you may qualify for the Apple Health Medicaid program. This program provides healthcare at no cost to you.
    • If you do not qualify for Apple Health, you will be provided with other health insurance plan options to choose from. What you pay for these other plans depends on the earnings you make each year.
  • Figure out how much your qualified health plan might cost you.
  • Find out what is covered by a basic level of health insurance, such as doctor and emergency room visits, care for children (including dental and eye care), prescriptions, maternity and newborn care, and preventive care like cancer screenings and immunizations, and much more.

Health Benefits Exchange—Key Open Enrollment Dates

During the 2016 open enrollment period which covers November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016 you can select a qualified health plan.

  • If you want your coverage to begin on January 1, 2016 you will need to enroll and pay your premium to your insurance carrier by December 23, 2015.
  • If you enroll and pay your premium to your insurance carrier after December 23, 2015 and before open enrollment ends on January 31, 2016, then your coverage will begin on February 1, 2016.
  • Once open enrollment ends on January 31, 2016 you can only enroll if you have a qualifying life event. You must enroll in a qualified health plan or change your current plan within 60 days of the qualifying event.

Health Benefits Exchange—Enrollment Options

Health Benefits Exchange enrollment options have increased for 2016; Exchange plans are offered by the following companies (listed alphabetically):

  • BridgeSpan Health Company (a Regence Plan)
  • Columbia United Providers
  • Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW)
  • Coordinated Care Corporation (Ambetter)
  • Group Health Cooperative
  • Health Alliance Northwest Health Plan
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest
  • LifeWise Health Plan of Washington
  • Molina Healthcare of Washington
  • Premera BlueCross
  • Regence BlueShield
  • United Healthcare

"In-Network" Access to UW Medicine

UW Medicine is considered "in-network" for several health insurance plans offered on the Exchange. Generally, patients pay less out-of-pocket for services when providers are in-network as opposed to out-of-network. Typically, "out-of–network" services require patients to pay higher co-payments and deductibles or may not be covered by insurance at all. Therefore, when selecting an Exchange plan, it is important to consider whether you will have access to your preferred providers at in-network rates.

UW Medicine is considered in-network for Exchange plans offered by the following companies:


In-Network for UW Medicine in 2016

BridgeSpan Health Company*
Columbia United Providers**  
Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW)
Group Health Cooperative**  
LifeWise Health Plan of Washington
Molina Healthcare of Washington
Premera Blue Cross (Heritage Signature)+
Regence BlueShield*
United Healthcare (Charter only)
Coordinated Care Corporation (Ambetter)  
Health Alliance Northwest Health Plan  
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest  

 "In-network" for UW Medicine in 2016

Shaded plans are not in UW Medicine's service area   

* = BridgeSpan & Regence BlueShield offer multiple "Accountable Health Networks"; the UW Medicine Accountable Health Network is "in-network" for UW Medicine. Members who select the Accountable Health Network will be required to select a primary care physician (PCP) within that provider network at the time of enrollment. There are no referral requirements by the PCP; however, it is essential that providers refer within the selected network the member has indicated on their member card to allow the member to receive the in-network benefit.

+ = Premera Blue Cross offers PersonalCare plans that allow the member network and PCP flexibility. UW Medicine is one of the networks included within the PersonalCare plans.

** = UW Medicine is contracted with Columbia United Providers and Group Health Cooperative plan for specialty services only, meaning that in-network access to UW Medicine services would first require referral or authorization from a primary care physician.

Before enrolling in an Exchange plan, confirm with both the plan and your medical provider(s) that your medical providers are part of the plan's network. From time-to-time, networks change so you should also periodically confirm your provider's network status even after you've enrolled in the plan. Be aware that health plans sold inside the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (wahealthplanfinder.org) may offer different provider networks than those sold outside the Exchange.

How to Sign Up

  • Online: visit Washington Healthplanfinder
  • By Phone: Washington Healthplanfinder offers customer support to help you get the information you need to enroll in health coverage that best meets your needs and your budget. A trained representative will help educate you about your options and walk you through the enrollment process. Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center is open to enroll individuals, families and small businesses in quality health coverage and answer questions about financial help and the enrollment process. Call Center business hours are 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Help will be available in up to 175 different languages. Call 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633) or TTY/TDD 1-855-627-9604.
  • In-Person: In-person support and help will be offered at many places throughout the greater Seattle and Puget Sound area, including hospitals, libraries, and other community groups.
  • At UW Medicine Hospitals: Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, UW Medical Center and Valley Medical Center will have staff on-site to help you sign up. Call ahead to schedule your appointment if you plan to come to one of the enrollment sites.
  • At UW Neighborhood Clinics: You can utilize any UW Medicine Hospital for assistance with questions or enrollment.

UW Medicine Enrollment Sites




Harborview Medical Center
8th Ave Ground West Lobby - Interview Lanes
Monday-Friday 8 AM - 5:00 PM
Harborview Medical Center
Emergency Department
(Patients will be referred to Ground West Lobby for appointments)
Monday-Sunday 24 HRS
University of Washington Medical Center
Monday-Friday 8 AM - 4:30 PM
University of Washington Medical Center
Emergency Department
Monday-Sunday 24 HRS
Northwest Hospital Emergency Department Financial Counselors 
(Dedicated office in the ED open 10 hours a day,
seven days a week for enrollment)
Monday-Sunday 10 AM - 8:30 PM
Valley Medical Center
Main Campus: Financial Advocates
Main Admitting Department
400 S. 43rd Street
Renton, WA 98055
Monday-Friday 8 AM - 6:00 PM
Valley Medical Center
Emergency Department
400 S. 43rd Street
Renton, WA 98055
Monday-Sunday 8 AM - 12:30 AM
Valley Medical Center
Patient Financial Services: Customer Service
3600 Lind Avenue, Suite 110
Renton, WA 98058
Monday-Friday 8 AM - 4:30 PM
Valley Medical Center
North Benson Urgent Care
10555 SE Carr Rd. Building M
Renton, WA 98055;
Monday-Friday    8 AM - 4:30 PM   


Enrollment Assistance, Questions, and Appointment Scheduling

UW Medicine is here to help you understand your healthcare coverage options so you can make an informed selection regarding your healthcare. Please call to schedule an appointment for assistance with your application or if you have questions:

  • Harborview Medical Center: 206.744.3084, option 3
  • UW Medical Center: 206.598.3806
  • Valley Medical Center: 425.656.5599 or 425.251.5178, option 3
  • Northwest Hospital and Medical Center: 206-364-0500 Toll Free 877-NWH-HOSP or 877-694-4677

When you're ready to apply, make sure you have information available for all household members applying for coverage before starting your application:

  • Legal names
  • Family relationships for each member of the family unit
  • Birth dates
  • Identification numbers (Social Security Number or immigration information)
  • Proof of immigration status if you're a legal permanent resident
  • Proof of tribal status if you're a registered American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Income before taxes
  • Proof of income if your income has changed since you last filed taxes
  • Tax filing status: This is what you report on your IRS tax form
  • Current health insurance information (coverage dates, group number and policy number)
  • Open Enrollment Renewal letter from the Washington HealthPlanFinder (if applicable)

More Information



The Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award
Northwest Hospital Earns The Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award
The Emergency Medicine Excellence Award
Northwest Hospital Earns The Emergency Medicine Excellence Award
eCare lets you see, manage and receive your health information online from clinic visits or hospital stays across the UW Medicine health system. Go to eCare.
Quick Links: Create a Free Patient Web Page

Recognize a Staff Member: DAISY Foundation Award - (for extraordinary nurses) | Cares Award - (for all Northwest Hospital staff)

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