OLYMPIA, Wash. – The open-enrollment period to purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace begins Wednesday. Folks in Washington state can find a state-based health plan on the Washington health plan finder website.

Michael Marchand, chief marketing officer with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange says this year the website has a very useful tool called the smart plan finder that helps people find the best deal on their plan.

“It actually lets customers find plans based on how often they use their coverage, meaning how often they might go to the doctor, and the prescriptions they fill, as well as their preferred doctor, meaning the network or facility that they may go to,” he explains.

Open enrollment in the Evergreen state ends December 15, for people who want their coverage to start on January 1, 2018 and January 15 for people wanting plans that start in February. Premiums are expected to go up in the state in part because of the Trump administration’s decision to end cost-sharing payments to insurance companies.

Marchand encourages everyone to check out plans during enrollment because they may have changed in the past year. He says even young people are recognizing the value of getting insurance and protecting themselves from potentially catastrophic medical debt.

“If you don’t have insurance then you’re kind of out there on your own,” he warns. “You’re basically walking the tightrope without a net financially, and it really comes with some very high risk.”

More than 225,000 Washingtonians signed up through the health-insurance exchange last year.