Health Care In The States

Washington State Call Center Logs 900 Calls On 1st Day

By Amy Snow Landa, Seattle Times

September 6th, 2013, 6:00 AM

This story was produced in partnership with

The phones are already busy at the Washington State Exchange call center where customer service representatives are fielding hundreds of questions about the state’s new health insurance exchange, slated to open for enrollment Oct. 1.

The call center, located in Spokane, opened on Tuesday and took 900 calls that day.

Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, says the first call came in before 7:30 a.m., the official start time.

There were more than 100 calls within the first hour, he told the board of the exchange at its Wednesday meeting.

Onizuka and other members of the exchange staff were on-hand at the call center for its opening.

Onizuka said there were about 60 customer service representatives working Tuesday, including about half a dozen Spanish speakers. There are about 80 customer service representatives altogether.

Most of the calls were about eligibility and enrollment. There were seven calls in Spanish, Onizuka said.

Representatives were able to help callers use the cost-estimate calculator available at

“A lot of the folks who were calling in seemed to be very pleasantly surprised at what they would be able to qualify for in terms of financial assistance,” Onizuka said.

The number of calls declined to about 650 the second day, according to Exchange spokesman Michael Marchand.

The call center is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The toll-free number is 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633). Washington residents can also email questions to

7 Responses to “Washington State Call Center Logs 900 Calls On 1st Day”

  1. Andy says:

    900 calls on the 1st day? Aren’t Republicans saying that the American people hate Obamacare? Huh? Didn’t American voters re-elect Barack Obama? How in the world could Obama get re-elected if America hates Obamacare so much? Huh? I’m beginning to think Republicans simply don’t like Barack Obama for some reason. President Obama is our first black President. Can anyone think why Republicans would hate Obama so much? I’m really puzzled as to why Republicans would hate America’s first black President so much. Any thoughts?

  2. ME says:

    Republicans would likely hate him and the ideals behind obama-care regardless of race. But somehow democrats always seem to make that connection. The sad part is it doesn’t matter what I don’t agree with, because DB’s like Andy will just naturally presume its race-driven and not founded in personal values that I hold dear. The great Bill Clinton could present this bad bill and he would get the same reaction. If you are a party for personal responsibility, limited government, and against “fining” people just because they happen to be alive, then you would oppose most of what democrats stand for, regardless of who sits in the oval office.

  3. Ruth Sweeney says:

    Why does it always have to come down to politics? How about what is just right – like all Americans being able to have health care. If we took the profit out of health care, the cost would go way down. The health of our citizens should never have become a commodity to generate profits for corporations whether they be hospital systems or insurance companies.

  4. Andy says:

    I agree Ruth. If we had Medicare-For-All, we’d have a single-payer non-profit healthcare system for every single American with nobody excluded. The broken fee-for-service healthcare system that we have today excludes more than 50 million Americans from having access to health insurance. Do they have access to healthcare? They sure do! The uninsured have access to the best healthcare America has to offer and they don’t pay one thin dime for it. Who pays? Everyone else that buys their health insurance pays a hidden premium to cover the uninsured freeloaders. Every insured person pays about $1200 more each year in hidden premiums to cover the uninsured freeloaders. Guess what? Republicans like the current broken fee-for-service healthcare system. They hate Obamacare. In spite of the fact that the original idea behind Obamacare began with the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. In spite of the fact that Romneycare also adopted the Heritage Foundation idea. In spite of the fact that obamacare is an exact copy of Romneycare. Republicans still hate it! How can that be? How can Republicans hate their own idea? It doesn’t make sense, does it? Fact is, these day, Republicans don’t make sense! They are morons! Complete morons! On top of that, they are hypocrites! Absolute hypocrites! Why would Republicans hate America’s first black President?

  5. Issac says:

    Personal responsibility? Isn’t mandating freeloaders to by health insurance making them personally responsible? As I see it, the freeloaders are the people that are creating the problem in America’s healthcare system. Some say that just 5 percent of the population is causing all the problems with our healthcare system. That 5 percent are getting a free ride. They go to the emergency room for all of their healthcare. They don’t pay. Don’t Republicans see that? Are Republicans that stupid? Obamacare makes the freeloaders buy health insurance. If you ask me, that’s called personal responsibility! Republicans are really dumb!

  6. marie says:

    All you need to know about the Heritage Foundation is that they hired a tea party guy to be their top dog. When Jim DeMint was in the Senate, he was among the most conservative Republicans there. The tea party absolutely loved him! Now he’s the head of the Heritage Foundation, the same Heritage Foundation that invented the idea of mandating health insurance which became the exact models for Romneycare and Obamacare. So why, all of a sudden, do Republicans hate Obamacare? And why do Republicans now think Romneycare was a bad idea? They were Republican ideas, right? Talk about insanity!

  7. ME says:

    Are you a robot…