Washington State health insurance exchange call center logs 900 calls on 1st day


By Amy Snow Landa, Seattle Times
This story was produced in partnership with 

red-telephoneThe 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 itsWednesday 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

“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

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.