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Washington State Joins HIX Club

Washington state has been granted conditional approval to move forward with plans to roll out its health insurance exchange (HIX) program, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Washington, the sixth state to reach this milestone, will call its online health-care marketplace Washington Healthplanfinder. The website is scheduled to go online Oct. 1, 2013.

“This conditional approval is a significant validation of the work that we’ve done to get our state’s health insurance exchange up and running,” Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement. “We are clearly ahead of the curve and well positioned to remain a national leader on health-care reform. Through our exchange, we will offer coverage to more than 200,000 uninsured Washingtonians and boost competition in the marketplace.”

Washington officials submitted their plans for establishing the HIX more than one month before the deadline. Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Colorado and Connecticut have also received preliminary approval for their exchanges. By contrast, many states have either chosen to default to a federally run exchange or have not yet announced any plan for an exchange. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Utah and Virginia have not announced an official course of action for an exchange.

By July 2013, Washington state will announce which Qualified Health Plans will be available to the public and by September 2013, a call center and toll-free phone number should be available for residents. Enrollees will receive coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.

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