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Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler urges consumers to consider range of coverage options

Although the federal government today announced a hardship exemption for consumers whose individual health policies were canceled, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler urges Washington residents to carefully consider their coverage options.

Individuals who received cancellation notices about individual policies will now be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage through the marketplace known as the Washington Healthplanfinder. They will also be exempt from penalties if they choose to go without insurance in 2014, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

However, they will not be allowed to maintain previously canceled policies in Washington state.

Kreidler urges consumers to get health-care coverage.

“People should get coverage,” Kreidler said. “Going without is not a good choice. No one at any age is immune from bad luck, a serious illness or an accident.”

Many people qualify for a health insurance subsidy —based on their income – that allows them to select an affordable, comprehensive plan in the Healthplanfinder. Subsidies are generally available to people who earn less than $45,960 per year. The cut-off for a family of four is $94,200. Subsidies are not available for catastrophic plans.

It’s important to take action quickly to make sure you are covered. If you wish to be covered by Jan. 1 for plans that may offer you a premium subsidy, you must set up an account in Washington Healthplanfinder by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 23 and then select a plan and pay the premium by Jan. 15.

If your 2013 health care plan was cancelled and you are opting out of insurance for 2014, you can apply for the exemption with the federal government. You will be required to submit a copy of your cancellation letter.

Kreidler recently offered other advice for consumers who are seeking health coverage by Jan. 1.

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