4 reasons the 100k enrollment milestone matters

Flickr photo by be OH be

Does it matter when your car’s odometer crosses 100,000? Nothing changes in the car, but you probably take notice.

We get new enrollment numbers for Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s new insurance exchange, almost every week. Now, at the start of the fifth month, more than 100,000 King County residents have signed up for coverage through the Healthplanfinder website.

That includes nearly 70,000 who qualified for free insurance through Apple Health, and another 30,000 who purchased health policies (most of them at a discount that depends on your income).

In announcing the milestone today, King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked employees and partners who are getting the word out and assisting anyone having trouble enrolling, calling them “the true ’12th man’ for coverage.”

Here are four reasons to pay attention to the 100,000 milestone:

  1. Look how far we’ve traveled since October, when enrollment was slowed due to issues with the website. By late October, the statewide total was 55,000 and back then, it wasn’t clear if King County would make it to 100,000 by the end of open enrollment in March.
  2. Each of those 100,000 people now has access to preventive medicine, including basic vaccines and screening tests — which should improve the overall health of the county in the long run.
  3. Each of those 100,000 people now has better financial security, for two reasons. Not only are medical costs a leading cause of bankruptcy, but also the high price for insurance has been a serious hardship for people — impacting how much they can spend on food, rent and other goods and services.
  4. There’s still a lot of time for more people to enroll. Open enrollment for Healthplanfinder runs until March 31, and for anyone at a lower income, Apple Health enrollment is available year-round. By this spring, even 100,000 might look like a small number.

(For context, statewide enrollment is more than 350,000.)

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