EVERETT — Mary Chonzena left smiling. “This is wonderful,” she said.
Chonzena had just stepped out of a mobile van parked at Everett Plaza Thursday afternoon, part of a statewide effort to help people who don’t have health insurance sign up, and find a community health center.
Chonzena, 53, of Snohomish, said it’s been five years since she’s had health insurance. “My husband retired and is done working,” she said. He’s gotten health care through the Veterans Administration. “I had no insurance,” she said.
Chonzena came to Thursday’s event to get more information on buying health insurance and said she’ll do a little more shopping before making her choice. “It went so smoothly,” she said.
The push both in Washington and nationally for the uninsured to get health insurance is part of the federal Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. An estimated 100,000 people in Snohomish County don’t have health insurance.
Everett was the seventh stop on a statewide tour sponsored by
“>Washington Health Plan Finder, the website where people can sign up for health insurance. Two more stops are planned in Kent and at the University of Washington.
At the Everett stop, 10 people sat at laptop computers inside the van to help answer questions on the ins and outs of health insurance and setting up online accounts for those who want to buy it.
About 60 people stopped by for information Thursday afternoon and about 20 signed up, said Bethany Frey, spokeswoman for the Washington Health Plan Finder.
Depending on which plan is picked, insurance will cover between 60 percent and 80 percent of medical costs. The rule of thumb is: the more health care expenses a plan pays for, the more it will cost in monthly premiums.
Many people can qualify for help paying for health insurance. For example, a single adult can earn up to $45,960 and get a subsidy. A family of four can make up to $94,200 and qualify for financial help.
There’s a Dec. 23 deadline for signing up for insurance that starts Jan 1. Enrollments continue through March 31 for health care starting later next year.
Since Oct. 1, nearly 500,000 people have gone to the state’s online health insurance site, called an exchange, where consumers can compare the costs and benefits of various health plans.
Although the state’s online site had its problems in the days following its launch on Oct. 1, it generally has operated far more smoothly than the much-criticized federal site, where people also can sign up for individual insurance plans.
In Snohomish County, 11 organizations are providing one-on-one help to consumers, including the Community Health Center of Snohomish County, Sea Mar Community Health Centers and Senior Services of Snohomish County.
Dave Moore, 60, of Edmonds, said he found the information he got on Thursday useful.
Moore, who works as a piano player and winemaker, said he had started to look at the insurance information at home.
“I got to the point where I needed advice,” he said. Moore said he tried to call the state’s toll free hotline for information, but wasn’t able to get through.
“I came here, completed the application and I’m quite pleased,” he said.
Moore, who now has an individual health insurance plan, said he recently received a letter saying it would cost him an additional $200 a month next year to get a health plan similar to what he now has.That encouraged him to begin shopping, he said.
Everett Community College student Curtis Weller, 45, of Lake Stevens, said that he hasn’t had insurance since he quit his job a little more than a year ago to go back to school. Weller said he will enter the college’s nursing program winter quarter.
Weller said his wife currently has insurance through her job but it’s expensive.
“I’m trying to find a plan for me, her and my 17-year old son,” he said. “There’s got to be something better out there.”
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