Early Numbers For Wash. Health Exchange Look Strong

Oct 8, 2013

Washington state’s health exchange is one week old. To date, more than 9,400 people have enrolled for health coverage. More than half of them will be newly eligible for Medicaid when the program expands in January. In addition, 10,000 more people have filled out applications but have yet to hit the purchase button.

Michael Marchand, spokesperson for the exchange, said those numbers indicate a strong start for the effort to get people enrolled in health insurance plans, despite the technical glitches in the first couple of days. He said the technical issue wasn’t related to the number of people who came to the site, but rather to how they used it. 

“If you think of it as — let’s say you have a museum,” he explained, “and you intend to have people go through the first floor and look at the exhibits, and then go to the second floor and look at the exhibits, and then go to the third floor and look at the exhibits and then exit out — you plan for that.”

But on opening day, Marchand said people had their own ideas about where they wanted to go, and in what order. “You open your doors and what happens is everyone runs into the museum and immediately goes to the dinosaur exhibit room on the second floor," he said. "You’re going to have an issue because that wasn’t necessarily what was planned for, and that was some of what we saw.”   

Marchand said traffic to the online marketplace continues to be robust. In the coming weeks, the agency hopes to analyze the numbers and get an idea of who the customers are and what kind of plans they’re buying.