Uninsured in King County? Outreach team has a plan to help you

The Open Enrollment period for purchasing discount health insurance begins next week, and King County is offering free expert help – with special emphasis on areas where large numbers of uninsured people live and work.

Those areas include south King County cities such as Auburn and Federal Way, along with some neighborhoods in Seattle and Bellevue. Some of the major enrollment events this year include:

Navigators preparing for an enrollment event

Health insurance Navigators preparing for an enrollment event at Southcenter Mall, Nov. 2014

  • Sat. Nov. 7 – Seattle City Hall, 10am-3pm
  • Sat. Nov. 14 – The Outlet Collection (mall), Auburn, 10am-3pm
  • Sat. Nov. 21 – Bellevue Crossroads Shopping Center, 10am-3pm
  • Sat. Jan. 9 – Third Place Commons, Lake Forest Park, 10am-3pm
  • Sat. Jan. 16 – Federal Way Commons, 10am-3pm

Health insurance assistance will also return to public library branches in neighborhoods across the county.

This year, many people signing up for insurance can also get Metro Transit’s discount transit passes (called ORCA LIFT).

Taxi drivers, restaurant and nail salon workers

Overall, a targeted outreach effort will help the remaining adults and families in King County who do not have insurance — and connect them with Washington Healthplanfinder. Public Health—Seattle & King County has analyzed enrollment patterns and data from the US Census Bureau to identify zip codes where there are likely larger numbers of people who remain uninsured.  Those areas will get extra attention. Continue reading

How to get health insurance help before the Feb. 15 deadline

Need help sorting through insurance choices? Not sure of the difference between a co-pay and a premium?

Don’t let these stop you from getting health insurance before February 15 — the last day of Open Enrollment for reduced-cost insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder.

Getting covered feels great! (flickr photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/pc-myshots-at-photography/)

Getting covered feels great! (flickr photo by pc-myshots@photography)

(After that date, enrollment still continues if your income allows you to qualify for Apple Health, or if you have a major life-event, such as getting married, losing a job or having a baby.)

To get help right away, start with King County’s coverage webpage.Special in-person enrollment events this weekend include:

  • Saturday, February 14, 11am-4pm, The Commons at Federal Way (mall), at Macy’s Court, 1928 South Commons, Federal Way, WA
  • Continue reading

Health insurance help at Northgate Mall and in South Park

For anyone with questions about getting health insurance, or worried about making the right choice — two enrollment events this weekend could help.

And the timing is right. There’s less than one month left in the “open enrollment” period for Washington Healthplanfinder. The deadline is Feb. 15 to be able to purchase insurance with discounts available only through the Healthplanfinder website. Anyone without insurance could face a penalty when they file their income tax return.

A multicultural enrollment event and health fair in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood will feature bilingual assistance in at least six languages, with a special focus on Spanish.

Read the full story and find event details at: Health insurance help at Northgate Mall and in South Park.

Special “watch/learn/do-it” insurance workshop – DIY or get personal help

Why do some people still not have health insurance, a year after the new system (Washington Healthplanfinder) launched?

Our enrollment experts learned that a lot of people either get stuck on some small detail in the process – or they fear getting stuck, so they don’t even want to try the website. (Others simply don’t have internet access at home.)

That’s why Public Health created a special “Watch/Learn/Do-it” enrollment event, this Saturday, December 6, at Seattle’s downtown library. We’re offering a free one-hour workshop-style presentation, where anyone can bring their own laptop or tablet and sign-up for insurance as we go step by step through the process.

Read more at Public Health Insider — Special “watch/learn/do-it” insurance workshop – DIY or get personal help.

Eat, shop, and protect yourself & family at special enrollment events

Southcenter To DoOver the next two weekends, you can get lunch, see a movie, buy a shirt – and protect your family with health insurance.

The new enrollment season with Washington Healthplanfinder (under the Affordable Care Act) starts Nov. 15. Enrollment experts from Public Health and our partner organizations will be helping people sign-up at:

Last year, 85% of people who signed-up got financial help to pay for their insurance.

If you’re enrolling online from home and need some help, the Public Health website has tips for where to turn. Continue reading

You have insurance, now what?

doctor's office

Flickr Photo by Mercy Health

 

Maybe you have never had health insurance. Or perhaps it has been so long since you were last covered that you don’t recall how to use your policy or what to expect when you do.

Enrolling in an insurance plan is just the starting point for your journey through the health system.

To smooth your trip through the medical complex, and to maximize the benefits of your new insurance policy, here are some tips:

Continue reading

No Foolin’: Enrollment continues if you qualify for Apple Health

Family

If you or your family qualifies for Apple Health, there is no deadline to register for insurance.

A major component of the new Affordable Care Act in Washington state is expanded Medicaid coverage, or Apple Health as it is now called. This allows thousands more people statewide to qualify for free health insurance.

Although the open enrollment period has officially ended to buy into the insurance exchange, individuals and families who are eligible for Apple Health may continue to enroll throughout the year. In other words — there is no deadline.

Who qualifies? It depends on family size and household income

  • Individuals who earn less than $15,857 annually qualify
  • A family of four with a combined income below $32,500 will qualify
  • The more children or dependents in your family, the higher your household income level can be.

To find out instantly if you qualify, enter your income level, age, and household size using the calculator on this webpage.  Then, to sign up, go to Washington Healthplanfinder (click “OK” to the warning, and select “Apply for Coverage”). You’ll need your monthly household income, the social security number and date of birth for each member of your family seeking health insurance and any relevant immigration information. You should receive notification of your coverage options within the hour.

No matter what your income, anyone who experiences a “qualifying event,” such as getting married or changing jobs, can also sign-up outside the enrollment periods. Healthplanfinder offers some advice on how to qualify under these criteria.

While the federal deadlines do not apply to those who qualify for Apple Health, why wait? The sooner you apply, the sooner your insurance kicks in and you can better manage your and your family’s health.

Between jobs, the state exchange bridges the insurance gap

Alasia Canares

Alasia Canares was able to find insurance on Washington Healthplanfinder when her employer didn’t offer her coverage.

Substitute teachers always have it tough. Students rarely behave as well for the temporary instructor, who is rushing to figure out, or create, a lesson plan, and learn the names in a classroom. The work is sporadic, the benefits non-existent.

And when they do get longer-term work, it’s often a temporary contract. What happens when your health benefits start and then stop again within a year?

Alasia Canares had been working as a substitute teacher in various school districts throughout the state — and paying $500 a month for health insurance. The burden of these bills paired with her rent had become unbearable for her and her husband.

Yet Canares wanted insurance coverage.

From the time she turned 18 until she began teaching at the age of 28, Canares was uninsured. Now 35, she didn’t want to re-experience the anxiety that had dogged her during her youth.

So with help from one of King County’s in-person assisters, Canares enrolled in a subsidized plan on Washington Healthplanfinder.

Continue reading

Cartoonists tell true stories about life (& angst) w/o insurance

by Meredith Li-Vollmer

David Lasky

“I’ve been uninsured for 7 years…” comic by David Lasky

David Lasky has every reason to be excited these days. He’s had steady work as a comics artist (you may have seen his recent poster design for the Jewish Film Festival or one of his covers for The Stranger).  He also won the prestigious Eisner award for his graphic novel with Frank Young, The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song.

And right now, he’s excited to have health insurance for the first time in seven years.

“I know how stressful it is when you don’t have insurance,” said Lasky. “And it’s a common experience for creative people. It’s a subject that comes up often when we get together.”

What it means to have insurance, in a four-panel cartoon

Lasky and other local comics artists and writers have created Comics 4 Health Coverage, to raise awareness that health coverage is now affordable, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.It’s a call to artists, writers, and anyone with a story to tell about what it means to have health insurance.

Continue reading

For women, especially, insurance equals savings

Young Woman

Free preventive care and birth control coverage add up to big savings for women.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, pregnancy could be treated as a preexisting condition and insurance could be denied. Insurance providers routinely “gender rated” plans, which resulted in higher-priced premiums for female customers. In a 2008 study, the National Women’s Law Center found that just 12 percent of some 3,500 insurance plans provided comprehensive maternity coverage.

Perhaps because they know what’s good for them, nationally women have been enrolling in health exchanges such as Washington’s Healthplanfinder at higher rates (55 to 45 percent) than men.

Under the new legislation, women cannot be charged more for insurance than men. All health plans must offer comprehensive maternity care and cover contraception, along with at least one free annual checkup.

According to some number crunching by NerdWallet, these new stipulations make purchasing insurance cheaper for women than paying out of pocket for routine and recommended medical expenses.

Continue reading