SPOKANE, Wash -- A push to get Washingtonians enrolled in public health insurance kicked off Wednesday in Spokane.
The Washington Healthplanfinder bus made its first stop on a statewide tour at the Native Health clinic on Maxwell Avenue. The enrollment tour was organized to dispel any rumors and answer questions about how to sign up for coverage. The tour signed up 54 families in Spokane on Wednesday.
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David Johnston and his family had been without health insurance for the past three years.
“When you're self employed, some months are good, some months are bad,” Johnston said.
Private insurance would have cost him $1,500 per month prior to the start of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Now, Johnston can sign up for coverage for a fraction of that amount.
“I don't know about the politics,” said Johnston. “We don't pay attention to all that. I just know it will be good for us to finally get some insurance.”
An apparent lack of public awareness about new public healthcare options, however, concerned officials and prompted the enrollment tour.
Nearly 45,000 people in Washington signed up over the past two weeks. Health Exchange leaders wanted to reach 130,000 sign-ups by the start of 2014.
“We're pleased with the response so far,” said Richard Onizuka with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange at the tour kickoff Wednesday. “We hope to continue it over the next three months. The big thing is people signing up by December 23rd, so their coverage will start January 1st.”
The Washington Healthplanfinder bus was scheduled for at least eight more stops across the state through November.