Enrollment deadline meets the tax-man: how King County is helping meet the need

For anyone hoping to buy discounted health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, the extended enrollment period ends on April 17 — and that date is no coincidence.

Luis Salazar, of Public Health–Seattle & King County helps a client enroll at Third Place Commons

Many people are preparing to meet the April 15 IRS deadline for income tax returns, and some will suddenly discover they owe a tax penalty for having no health insurance. And they might want to get insurance now, to avoid a bigger penalty next year.

Anticipating some last-minute interest in getting help, the Public Health Access & Outreach team is working with our county-wide network of insurance “Navigators” to extend a helping hand in this final week. At a special event on Saturday in Shoreline, experts will offer free help, with assistance in multiple languages. They’ll also sign-up people for Metro’s reduced fare ORCA Lift card.

Why Shoreline? There’s an interesting answer, but first here are the details: Continue reading

An Executive-level thanks for extra hours during enrollment surge

Executive Dow Constantine says thanks to Llonia Patterson of Public Health's Access & Outreach team

King County Executive Dow Constantine says thanks to Llonia Patterson of Public Health’s Access & Outreach team.

As thousands of residents scrambled to apply for health insurance before a Dec. 23 deadline, many of them needed personal help. And often, the friendly face greeting them at a library or community center belongs to a member of Public Health’s Access and Outreach group.

The team worked nights and weekends, and in the final hours fielded calls at an improvised call-center to solve some of the most challenging problems with online enrollments in Washington Healthplanfinder.

“I make sure to smile before I answer the call,” said Llonia Patterson, who’s been with Public Health nearly nine years and is used to handling stressed out phone-calls. “It helps me make sure I have a smile in my voice and don’t sound stern to the client.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine stopped by the 10th floor of the Chinook Building to thank the team for their efforts and learn more about this extended outreach. In the brief moments between a steady stream of phone calls from uninsured residents, he shook hands with staff and saw why this work requires such a personal touch.

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Three memorable quotes from November’s ‘civic cocktail’

Keeping up with all the twists and turns during the rollout of health reform might make you occasionally want a stiff drink.

Maybe that’s what the organizers had in mind, when they devoted a half-hour of “Civic Cocktail” (aka “civic conversation with a twist”) to analyzing what happened in  the first month of health reform implementation — what worked, what didn’t, and what’s in store for the future.

The program is Seattle Channel’s collaboration with Seattle CityClub. If you missed the cocktail hour, and the TV broadcasts, we’ve picked three quotes that jumped out — and still resonate.

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