6 great websites for local health reform info

Are you on health reform information overload? It seems every organization and agency has its own webpage devoted to the big insurance rollout this fall and winter. Here’s a quick reference for six official websites meant to keep us informed about what the Affordable Care Act means in Washington, and how people can get enrolled or get involved.

1. Coverage is Here King County
This website, from Public Health – Seattle & King County, is a portal aimed primarily at consumers and organizations who want to understand the law and find out about enrollment activities locally. It links to events, training opportunities and partner organizations, as well as resource pages.

2. Washington Health Benefit Exchange
Straight from the source, this website offers everything from a monthly premium calculator to Washington Healthplanfinder radio spots. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange was created to implement the federal Affordable Care Act in Washington state, by creating an insurance marketplace and providing subsidies for those who qualify. It’s an independent agency, designed to be self-sustaining, separate from state government but overseen by a board appointed by the Governor.  This is a great place to find official, reliable information.

3. Washington State Hospital Association
This group advocates for hospitals and providers, which have a huge stake in how the Affordable Care Act is implemented. This page offers insight into the role they are playing in health reform, and how the changes are impacting the medical system. Peruse news, event listings and a great explanation about the benefits of Medicaid expansion.

4. Coverage is Here Washington State
The changes to insurance will have a big impact on people currently receiving benefits from state agencies. The Governor’s office has created this user-friendly site as both a hub for the statewide health care enrollment campaign, Coverage is Here, and to answer questions about how other state programs might be changing.

5. Office of the Insurance Commissioner
All of the insurance plans sold under the new law must get approval from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. His office reviews the proposed pricing for the plans and their networks of doctors and hospitals, to make sure they meet the requirements of the law. This website on health reform offers simple and clear explananations of what’s required from individuals and businesses.

6. Washington Healthplanfinder
This is the epicenter — where individuals can shop for and purchase insurance, between Oct. 1 and Mar. 31. Wondering if you might qualify for subsidized insurance? Just want to compare plans? Look no further than Washington Healthplanfinder, your one-stop shop for health care enrollment and shopping. This site is also full of background information, some of which it shares with its parent site, the Washington Health Benefits Exchange.

For regular updates about outreach activities in King County and how the enrollment campaign is unfolding, you can subscribe by email to the Coverage is Here King County Blog.

One note of caution: as Kaiser Health News has reported, a number of new websites are intended to mirror the official sites, but are operated by outside entities that don’t disclose their purpose.

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