Health exchange no longer handling payments

healthplanfinderThe state health exchange is getting out of the payment processing business.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday, customers who bought insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder will make premium payments directly to their insurance carriers.

Healthplanfinder will no longer accept payments. Billing questions should also be directed to the insurance companies, according to a news release.

The change does not affect business customers or Apple Health (Medicaid) customers.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange board voted to make the change last December after hearing complaints from customers and insurance companies, according to a news release.

“By taking the Exchange out of the payment process, customers and insurance companies can work directly on any accounting-related issues,” interim Exchange CEO Pam MacEwan said in the release. “This frees the Exchange to do what we do best.”

Billing was not what the Exchange and its partners did best.

Healthplanfinder was plagued by glitches over the past two years. A tax calculation error derailed Healthplanfinder on the first day of open enrollment for 2015.

In February the Exchange mistakenly double- and  triple-charged customers for March insurance coverage. The agency promised to have the charges reversed within 48 hours. But, as I chronicled on this blog, it took weeks for one Poulsbo woman to get her account sorted out.

The open enrollment period for 2016 health plans begins Nov. 1.

The Exchange has the following tips for existing customers as they transition to paying insurance companies directly: 

  • Prior to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23, customers should make their October premium payments to the Exchange. After 5 p.m. on Sept. 23, customers should make their October premium payments directly to their insurance company.
  • Beginning at 5 p.m. on Sept. 23, Washington Healthplanfinder will be taken offline through the end of the week. The Exchange Customer Support Center will be available on a limited basis to answer customers’ questions during this system maintenance. More information is available at
  • Customers with health and dental insurance provided by two different companies must remember to make payments to each company. They can expect to be invoiced by each company.
  • Customers who have been determined eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions do not have to worry. This change does not impact customers’ eligibility for financial assistance.
  • After Wednesday, Sept. 23, customers that have billing or invoice questions should first contact their insurance carrier before calling the Exchange.
  • The Exchange and insurance companies are committed to working together to make this transition as smooth as possible and ensure that any customer billing and invoice issues are identified and quickly addressed. All insurance companies will have direct access to designated operation and finance teams at the Exchange.
  • If customers experience a delay in invoicing or resolving an issue, they should make payments to their insurance companies in the amount they previously paid to Washington Healthplanfinder until the issue is resolved. This will ensure their coverage continues.
  • The state’s 1.8 million Medicaid customers are not affected by this change.

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