New healthcare exchange building opens in Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. - A brand new Washington Health Exchange building opened its doors Tuesday in Spokane. It aims to help residents find the right health plan during open enrollment.

Many people, including Spokane resident, Joel Pendleton, and his wife, don't know what to expect when they begin looking for health insurance.

"I came in here kind of nervous, expecting to have to pay a lot of money," said Pendleton. "I didn't really know the lingo or, you know, anything like that."

Tuesday, they visited the new Washington Health Exchange building located at 2001 N. Division. The Washington Health Exchange says Spokane County has one of the highest concentrations of uninsured residents in the state. And with more changes on the Exchange this year, it wants to get as many people insured through Washington Healthplanfinder as possible.

"The premiums went up a little bit. If you're in the rural counties, Premera isn't there anymore, so you have some different choices in the rural counties," said Curt Fackler, who works at the new Health Exchange building.

Pendleton says he's been trying to figure out which plan would be right for his family for a while now, but couldn't find the right insurance. Monday, he decided to visit the new building, and says he's glad he did.

"We've been calling around the different 800-numbers and we've been quoted anywhere from 250 to 400 per person, and here it's a small portion of that," Pendleton said.

Millions of Americans are expected to see their premiums jump an average of 25% next year. But, Pendleton says he was able to find a much more affordable option by coming to the building in person.

"I was able to actually look physically at what we're doing, rather than hearing it over the phone, and it just makes a lot more sense to be here in person," he said.

That's why Fackler says it's important to review your health insurance now and know if it's time to look for a new plan.

"Anything in transition, or if you've changed jobs in the last year, anything like that," Fackler said. "Now is the time to get in there cause this is the main time to make those changes."

Open enrollment for Washington Healthplanfinder is open now until Jan. 31, 2017.