SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- A government shut down will not affect a state call center in Spokane Valley set up for the Affordable Care Act.
Beginning October 1, those without insurance will be able to enroll in new health plans as part of a federal mandate, or they will have to pay a fine. Hundreds of people are available on the phone andin-person to help people sign up for a new health plan if they are still uninsured or without income.
As of early Tuesday, several calls were unable to go through and the website had trouble loading.
"The big advantage now is there are no pre-existing conditions," said Kurt Fackler, who has spent long hours preparing for the enrollment period. He works as the manager of a network that helps people get help face-to-face who enroll through Washington's health plan finder. "So, if you have been turned down for insurance or you've got a medical issue right now, there are no medical questions to ask, or anything else. It's nice and simple."
The network is called In-Person Assister. Dozens of clinics and offices are available with trained staff to help. Or for those who just need assistance over the phone, they can call the Spokane Valley call center which has staff trained to speak 160 languages collectively.
"A lot of the uninsured are immigrants and they don't speak the English real well," Fackler said. "That's an opportunity for them to be walked through the process in their native language."
Fackley said he does not know what kind of traffic to expect when enrollment opens.
"We have no idea," he said. "Nothing has happened like this, forever. It'll be great. Maybe we will be like the Apple stores. There will be a lot of people at the end, or maybe we will open the door and go 'nobody's there.'"
For more information, call (855) 923-4633.