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Washington state exchange gets 10,487 Web applications

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — In Washington state, 9,452 people signed up for health insurance for themselves or their families through the public exchange during the first week the exchange was open.

Officials at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported Monday that the exchange also has received another 1,045 complete applications since the program opened Oct. 1. The exchange is waiting for the consumers who filed those applications to complete the payment process before enrolling them in coverage, officials said.

Officials said 2,594 of the applicants who got through the enrollment process received Medicaid coverage that took effect immediately, and 5,946 are newly eligible for Medicaid coverage and will get coverage that takes effect Jan. 1.

The exchange has enrolled 916 people in “qualified health plans,” or plans sold through the exchange by commercial health insurers.

Washington state is running its own, state-based Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange program.

As of Monday, the exchange’s website had recorded 837,152 visits from 165,332 unique visitors. The visitors had set up 39,115 accounts.

Visitors who set up an account must provide some personal information but not necessarily gone through the process of applying for coverage.

Exchange spokesman Michael Marchand said the numbers show that there’s a “tremendous amount of interest” in the new exchange, despite the technical glitches the site encountered last week.

“There’s new products out there that individuals can find to fit their health insurance needs and their health insurance budget,” he said.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported average call center wait times of just over 10 minutes in the first week.

Some customers last week said they waited much longer. Other customers reported the phone system hung up on them after a recorded announcement about unusually heavy call volumes.

About 1 million Washington state residents lack health coverage, and officials hope to enroll 130,000 of those in coverage through the exchange system in 2014.

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