In King County, more than 92 percent of its citizens have health insurance, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Maple Valley is no exception with about 98 percent of its residents having health insurance.
This year marks the shortest enrollment period ever at just six weeks, Constantine stated in a press release from King County.
According to Keith Seinfeld, King County Information Officer, he and the county hope with a shorter enrollment period, people won’t wait too long to find the health insurance that works best for them.
“In past years there was an initial deadline and then the extended deadline, and most people sign up by the initial deadline, which is that Dec. 15 deadline,” Seinfeld explained. “But for people who for any reason didn’t, there’s a little bit of a cushion and this year we don’t have that cushion. So we really hope people won’t wait until the very last minute.”
The reason this year’s enrollment period is so short is because of the Trump Administration, Constantine said during a informational speech in Maple Valley Oct. 25.
He said during his speech the Trump Administration has tried to repeal Obamacare, but has failed to do so. And to “sabotage” the insurance market, the administration made the enrollment period the shortest it has ever been since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started in 2013.
As a city, Maple Valley on average has had a 75 percent reduction in uninsured residents from 2013 to 2017 thanks to the ACA, Seinfeld said. He said Maple Valley is one of the most insured cities in the county.
As an estimate, Seinfeld said King County as a whole has had an average of a 50 percent reduction in uninsured residents because of the ACA.
He said the data he has shared comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, which do annual surveys every year about different things that are going on in people’s lives, like if they have health insurance or not.
Although this information is useful, it can be limited.
“We only get that data for incorporated cities that have a population of 30,000 or more. We can’t go back five years within the city of Maple Valley, we can only go back a few years because the city was less than 30,000 before,” Seinfeld explained.
There is separate data that reflects zip codes, he said.
Seinfeld explained that zip codes do not match city limits and this data comes from the state, not the Federal Government.
“We try to estimate the numbers, individuals who live in that zip code who are not insured, but are eligible for the insurance. So this does not include people who immigrated and people who have lived here less than five years,” he said.
He also said it does not include senior citizens because they’re already eligible for Medicare and most of them are already covered.
So by looking at zip codes, Seinfeld said there are more uninsured than there are within city limits.
For example, in the zip code 98042, there are about 1,500 people who are uninsured, but are eligible for health insurance because that zip code includes a bigger area, i.e. more than just the city limit, it stated in a fact sheet from King County.
To keep the number of uninsured residents down, King County is hosting a number of enrollment events around King County, which started Nov. 1 and lasts until Dec. 15.
At each of these enrollment events, there will be what are called “navigators” there to help people eligible for one of the 20 insurances offered in King County, find the right health insurance for them,” Seinfeld said.
There are about 270 navigators in King County and one or two them will attend each enrollment event, he continued.
“The navigator helps you type in your info into the online tool that the state has called Healthplanfinder. It does some income verification automatically once you get your social security number in there. So they help walk you through that and see what you’re eligible for,” Seinfeld explained. “They show up and set up a table and bring their laptop. They’re logged into the state system and you sit down side by side and enter your information and see what your eligible for.”
So depending on your income, Seinfeld said that will determine what insurance you’re eligible for.
“The lower your income the larger your tax credit that helps you pay for it. The higher the income the smaller the tax credit because you can afford more,” Seinfeld explained.
If you are not able to attend an event, or do not feel like you need any assistance, Seinfeld said all you have to do is go to the King County Healthplanfinder website at kingcounty.gov/depts/health/locations/health-insurance/coverage.aspx.
Upcoming enrollment events in the area will take place at:
Kent Public Health Center on Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Maple Valley Library on Dec. 12 from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Black Diamond Library on Dec. 13 from 3:30-7:30 p.m.
To find out where other enrollments will be taking place, go to kingcounty.gov/depts/health/locations/health-insurance/coverage/enrollment-assistance/calendar.aspx.