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AmeriCorps Week: Language is a source of empowerment!

By Noelle Horario, WithinReach AmeriCorps Bilingual Outreach & Enrollment Specialist
Public Health – Seattle King County organized an assistance event in partnership with the Mexican, Peruvian, and Salvadorian consulates at the end the of January to offer a variety of services to families in the South Park community of Seattle. The services provided at the event included everything from concerns about health insurance and health screenings to taxes and other assistance programs folks could be eligible for. This event was catered to account for the various barriers that underserved communities experience when seeking assistance with government and state programs; barriers such as time, site location, transportation and language need, to name a few.
Location-wise, the event was held at a neighborhood information and resource center, a site familiar to many members of the surrounding community as being a welcoming environment. And as far as transportation accessibility, I found the site location to be extremely straightforward and easily reached, having taken the bus myself. The day of the event was scheduled for a weekend, allowing working families and individuals to attend outside of business hours. And finally, service organizations took advantage of their partnerships in order to provide bilingual health insurance in-person assisters (IPAs) for many languages of need, which is how I found myself at the event. Though the need for bilingual IPAs who spoke Tagalog was minimal, I was still able to assist a few individuals and families with their health insurance questions either in English or with the help of some of the volunteer interpreters.

There was one particular client story I walked away with from this experience that enhanced my perspective of language barriers. This client helped me see the other side of this complex barrier by showing me how much language is a source of empowerment.

Mariana** is a middle-aged Latin American woman who approached me toward the end of the event accompanied by a volunteer interpreter. She sat down and prefaced the conversation by saying that she wanted to try to communicate with me independently, but she also wanted the interpreter present in case there was any confusion. Mariana told me that she had recently become self-employed and was having difficulty navigating the exchange to choose a health plan for herself. The interaction was more drawn out than my usual interactions to confirm understanding on both ends; there were occasional tangents in Spanish until Mariana remembered that I didn’t understand. Since it was the end of the day, we weren’t able to complete the interaction with the purchase of her health plan so we exchanged information in order to complete it over the phone at another time.

In the following weeks we exchanged multiple phone calls so I could complete her application, explain the terminology surrounding insurance, guide her through the process of going to Staples so she could fax me her income verification, and finally purchase a plan.

In the months of my service I’ve had a wide range of final remarks from clients after finishing an interaction with them: “Finally,” or “glad that’s over,” as if the service was something I had withheld from them that I had finally granted. However, most of the final remarks are those of gratitude: “Thank you for making this easy for me,” and “thank you for being so kind.”

On my last phone call with Mariana she said, “Noelle, before you go I want to tell you something…” She thanked me first for assisting her with her application, but then went on to thank me for taking the time to understand her. She said that she had always been nervous about speaking English in public for fear of not being understood or taken seriously. She said she truly felt that our interactions had occurred in such a way where she understood what I was telling her and that I understood what she was trying to say.

Before my work with Mariana, I had seen my AmeriCorps service as a way to tear down the general systemic barriers that prevent people from accessing the resources they need. Now, I view my interactions with clients as opportunities to build bridges to resources despite these barriers. The value in our work comes from providing assistance that is personal and empathetic to the difficulties of navigating complicated systems.

**Client name has been changed to protect privacy.

 

Tags: AmeriCorps   AmeriCorps Week   Community Health   health insurance   Health insurance enrollment   In-Person Assisters   Language Barriers   Volunteer   Washington HealthPlanFinder   Washington state   

All It Takes Is One Accident!

Written by: Annya Pintak, WithinReach Community Partnership Associate
Edited by: Kari Geiger, WithinReach AmeriCorps Program Lead
“I’m healthy, I don’t need health insurance…I never go to the Doctor!” My partner Charlie said this to me during last year’s Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. I am passionate about ensuring folks are aware of the benefits of getting covered, and as a WithinReach employee and a navigator for the Health Benefit Exchange, hearing him say that made my ears ring. After constantly bugging him, my partner finally allowed me to help him enroll. He was approved for tax credits and was quick to purchase the Bronze plan which was cheaper every month, but had an incredibly high deductible. As a navigator, I did my duty of showing him all of his available options ranging from Silver to Gold plans and educated him on all of the health insurance terms. Charlie was still adamant that a Bronze Plan was best for him since he is young and doesn’t foresee himself using his health insurance—the “young invincible” rationale.
Six months after he purchased his health insurance I received a frantic phone call from Charlie letting me know that he was on his way to the emergency room with a broken arm. He was admitted to the ER, his arm was put in a splint, and he was referred to an orthopedic surgeon to further assess the damage. Three days later we found out he needed surgery to ensure that the bones in his fractured arm and wrist would heal correctly, as well as reduce his risk of early onset arthritis.
The biggest lesson we both received from his accident was that health insurance was worth it, even having a plan with a high deductible. The surgery without health insurance coverage would have cost almost $25,000—including anesthesia, the surgeon’s time, x-rays, physical therapy, and other treatment-associated costs. The maximum amount we paid out-of-pocket was $5,250, which was the amount for both the deductible AND the out-of-pocket maximum. $5,250 is still a large amount, but when you compare it with a $25,000 bill, it’s a big difference.
Charlie’s decision to purchase a Bronze Plan allowed him to access the best treatment option for his fractures, as well as provided both of us with the security that we would not go into financial debt while paying his medical bills. It is hard to understand the value of having health insurance until something catastrophic happens, but it is important to think of health insurance as is, a security blanket for your health AND finances. No one purchases car insurance with the intention of getting into a car accident, and the same can be said regarding health insurance. Life happens when you least expect it, and you never know when health insurance will be incredibly beneficial to you. Get yourself and your loved ones covered!

The current deadline for enrollment is February 15th 2015! Create an account or log in to your account on www.wahealthplanfinder.org today to update your application and explore your options. For tips and tricks, check out some articles we wrote over the past year:

Remember: The deadline to enroll is FEBRUARY 15th, 2015, so log on today or call us for help through our Family Health Hotline for assistance at: 1-800-322-2588!

 

Tags: Accident   Family Health Hotline   finances   health insurance   Health Plan   Healthcare   insurance coverage   Open Enrollment   out of pocket      Washington Health Benefit Exchange   Washington state   

Being Prepared Over Feeling Invincible: Why Medical Insurance Is Important While You Are Young

By Chris Garrido-Philp, Bilingual Outreach & Enrollment Specialist, WithinReach AmeriCorps
Since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a lot of attention has been given to the “Young Invincibles,” or people aged 19-26, and the worry that they would not sign up or use their health insurance. The term “Young Invincibes” was coined by the health insurance industry to describe young adults who are relatively healthy but choose not to have insurance due to the belief that, their chances of getting hurt or sick are slim to none. I am one of those “Young Invincibles” and I’m very familiar with the feeling of rarely getting sick. Even so, I am glad to have insurance and the security that if I do have a serious health issue, I’ll be covered.
Not too long ago I walked into my doctor’s office unable to remember the last time I had been in for a check-up. I didn’t even remember my doctor’s name, let alone what he looked like. I wasn’t avoiding him on purpose; I just never felt the need to go. When I did get sick, it was easily fixed with some fever reducing medication and rest. The appointment reminded me of the importance of regular check-ups and preventative measures. He asked me if my childhood asthma was still manageable and if I needed an inhaler to be safe. While I haven’t suffered a serious asthma attack in years, I was glad he addressed this important health issue; as my new job takes me outdoors on occasion. So, I told him I would need an inhaler for emergencies and he prescribed it for me. I feel so much happier knowing that I am healthy and prepared.
While youth is associated with good health, there are multitudes of conditions that can appear without any notice. Cancer, STDs, neurological disorders, ulcers, and others that can happen at any age, not to mention injuries like sprains and broken bones. When you’re just out of high school or college, ready to face adulthood and get a job, that doesn’t automatically prepare you for full independence. It especially doesn’t provide you with the skill sets you need if you are facing a health problem on your own. Living uninsured is always a risk and can cost people more than they expect. It can result in an exorbitant amount of medical expenses that can derail your future plans; such as postponing college, having a family, starting a new job, finding a new home and more.
Although, paying for monthly premiums can be difficult and expensive, having medical insurance helps manage life’s unexpected moments of vulnerability by reducing your medical costs. Having coverage is also a preventive measure that allows you to discover certain health conditions and treat them before they get worse. Youth may be in a period of perceived invincibility, but life is notorious for changing unexpectedly. None of us are truly invincible, but being prepared and having insurance when we need it brings us closer to the goal of living a long, healthy life.
You could be eligible for our state’s Medicaid program (Washington Apple Health) or a subsidy from the government to help you pay for insurance. Call WithinReach’s Family Health Hotline today at 1-800-322-2588 or visit our website at www.parenthelp123.org for more information.

 

Tags: ACA   Afordable Care Act   AmeriCorps   Family Health Hotline   health insurance   Medical Cost   ParentHelp123   Washington Apple Health   Washington state   Young Invincibles   

Not Having Health Insurance Might Impact Your Family’s Finances!

Collaboratively written by: Francesca Murnan, Benjamin Johns, and Benito Sanchez (WithinReach Healthy Connections Team)
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the majority of people in the United States are now required to have health insurance. As a key component of the law, individuals and families will be asked to maintain health insurance at least nine months out of the year. People that choose to go uninsured may face a fee associated with not enrolling in health insurance coverage. Not everyone will be impacted by these changes, nor will they be asked to pay a fee, but it is important to understand where you and your family fit into this complex puzzle. In this blog, we explain the basic structure for how to determine if you are “covered” and what your options may be if you find yourself without health insurance.
Am I covered?
Health insurance is a very broad term and could encompass a variety of health insurance plans. For the purposes of the Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage is determined by a standard called “minimum essential coverage”. If a health plan has this label, it means that it has met the federal standard of a quality health insurance plan. For many people the establishment of minimum essential coverage plans now provides a higher quality and broader scope of service from their health insurance providers than what was available prior to the Affordable Care Act. All minimum essential coverage plans must cover 10 essential health services that are outlined here. For a large number of people, the minimum essential coverage requirement has been met through their existing health plan. If not, the Affordable Care Act has created new health plan options.

Common types of minimum essential coverage:

  • The vast majority ofemployer-sponsoredhealth plans
  • All of theprivate health plans offered through the Washington HealthPlanFinder
  • Apple Health plans offered through the Washington HealthPlanFinder
  • TRICARE plans offered through the US Military

For some people, there will be no changes in their health plans or how they apply for health insurance. But for 41 million uninsured Americans [1], the enactment of the Affordable Care Act has opened new doors to affordable, accessible and quality health insurance coverage. In Washington State, new health insurance plans are now offered through the Washington HealthPlanFinder with government subsidies such as tax credits and cost sharing reductions to make the insurance more affordable for most individuals and families. Other programs, like Washington Apple Health, have expanded to allow more people to enroll in free and low-cost health insurance. These new options present viable opportunities for health insurance that have not existed in the past.

What happens if I did not get health insurance?
If an individual or family was not able to enroll in a health insurance plan in 2014, they could face a fee when they file their 2014 taxes. This fee acts as the enforcement piece of the Affordable Act Care and it is commonly referred to as the individual responsibility requirement. In order to make health insurance affordable and accessible to everyone, the majority of people need to participate. Fees acts as a way to hold each other accountable and keep the overall cost of health insurance low. The amount of the fee will vary by household. The basic fee schedule for not having health insurance in 2014 and 2015 is:

1Health_FeeChart

Are there any other options?
The fee is not designed to punish people that cannot afford health insurance or have experienced hardship. There are a number of reasons why someone may not have been able to enroll in health coverage over the past year. In response to the unique needs of individuals and families, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace offers exemptions that allow people to go insured for short periods of time or to be completely exempt from the individual responsibility requirement and therefore exempt from paying any fees associated with not having health insurance.

To find out more about the exemptions offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace and how to apply for them, call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or contact us through our website: ParentHelp123.org

2015 Open Enrollment for the Washington HealthPlanFinder is happening now to February 15th. Call the Family Health Hotline to speak to a Health Insurance Navigator about your options: 1-800-322-2588.

Citation:
[1] Kaiser Family Foundation. Key facts about the uninsured population. http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/

 

Tags: ACA   Affordable Care Act   Family Health Hotline   fee exemption options   Health Coverage   Health Fee   health insurance   Health insurance enrollment   marketplace   ParentHelp123   TRICARE   uninsured   Washington Apple Health   Washington HealthPlanFinder   Washington state   

WA Healthplanfinder Gets a Makeover: 6 things you need to know!

By Emma Lieuwen and Irina Verevkina
WithinReach Bridge to Basics Outreach team, AmeriCorps
Open enrollment began November 15, 2014 and will continue until February 15, 2015. If you have not yet enrolled for health coverage, now is the time! Even if you signed up last year, your options may have changed, so be sure to review your plan.
If you have any questions about your coverage, need help navigating Washington Healthplanfinder’s website, or would like help with your application, please call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
If you would rather talk to someone in person, call the Family Health Hotline to find out where our team will be in the community.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Recently, Washington Healthplanfinder’s website got a new look! When you go to wahealthplanfinder.org the homepage looks a little different. The new look was designed to make finding information about enrolling in free or low-cost health coverage easier. Here are six changes that we think are important:
Change #1: New look for the Homepage
The sign in button is now located in the upper right corner. Additionally, there is now a designated section on the homepage to directly access Apple Health Renewals and Enrollment in the middle of the page.
Homepage
Forgot your username or password? Simply click the green “Sign in” button and you will be able to retrieve it, or call the Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.
Sign_In_Button
Change #2: New Application Questions
“Is any member on this application a child 26 or older seeking adult disabled dependent coverage?”
Answer “yes” to this question if one of your dependents is an adult child with a disability; meaning, they cannot work due to their disability and are financially dependent on you. How this question is answered won’t affect your eligibility for Apple Health.
“Is any household member on this application currently enrolled in Medicare?”
If someone is covered by Medicare, they are likely ineligible for Qualified Health Plans and Apple Health.
Change #3: Eligibility Status Screen
After submitting your application, you will be taken to the Eligibility Status screen. This page provides the following information for each member of your household:

  • Eligibility status (Approved, Ineligible, Conditional, etc)
  • The program name (for example, Washington Apple Health)
  • Coverage dates
  • Next steps

Eligibility_Status

Change #4: Pending Coverage and Document Upload
If you, or someone on your application, has a “pending coverage” eligibility status, you may be required to submit documents for additional verification. You can click the “upload documents” button to upload files. If you are prompted to submit documents, do so as soon as possible to avoid losing coverage.

Pending_Coverage

Change #5: Reporting Changes
If you need to report a change on your application, you can now see how the change affects your eligibility. This is an improvement from how change reporting used to go, which required you to select and purchase a plan if you tried to make a change.
Reporting_Change
Change #6: Plan-palooza
This year, there will be more Qualified Health Plans to choose from. Be sure to shop around, consider your needs, and explore your options to make sure you’re getting the best plan for your needs and budget.
More questions? Call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 today!

 

Tags: Apple Health Renewals   Family Health Hotline   Free-Low Cost Health Coverage   health insurance   Open Enrollment   Washington HealthPlanFinder   Washington state   

March Is the Time to Enroll In Health Insurance

Written by Jefferson Rose, Bilingual Community Outreach Specialist

This weekend we hosted a health fair and health insurance enrollment event at the Lynnwood Senior Center with free blood pressure screenings, kids activities, chair massages and health plan information.

The event was part of a statewide push to enroll as many people as possible before the end of March, the deadline to sign up for coverage and not be subject to the tax penalty.  There have been a lot of dates and times floating around, but the Washington Health Benefit Exchange recently announced the official guidelines.  For coverage to begin April 1st for a Qualified Health Plan, payment must be received by 5 PM on March 23rd.

Open enrollment does continue through March 31st, and if you enroll between March 24th and the 31st, coverage will begin May 1st.  If you do not enroll by the March 31st deadline, your next opportunity to apply for health coverage will be November 15th. If you are income eligible for free coverage (Washington Apple Health Medicaid), open enrollment is year-round.

There are many events across Washington where people can sign up or get more information.  Visit the WithinReach event calendar to see where we will be enrolling individuals and families for coverage or visit the Washington Health Benefit Exchange event calendar for an additional list of events across the state.

Come see us and enroll before the deadline!

Tags: Health insurance enrollment   

How to Apply For Health Insurance If Your Income Is Unpredictable

Written by AmeriCorps member, Natasha Pietila

Since October 1st, we have received many questions about how to report complicated income on the Washington Healthplanfinder applications. Below, we discuss two common income questions.

Question: My income fluctuates every month. How should I report this on my application?

Answer: The Health Care Authority instructs Washington residents to report estimated monthly income. You should report the most accurate, up-to-date income for 2014. Here are some scenarios and tips:

  • If you predict that your 2014 income will fluctuate and mirror last year’s income, you might report a monthly average income, based on last year’s income.
  • If your income was stable last year, but is fluctuating now, you might report an estimated monthly average, based off your income earned since January 1st, 2014.
  • If you know that your income will be changing, report a change of income on your application after it has stabilized. This may be particularly relevant to seasonal workers. If your income changes by $150 or more per month, report the new income within 30 days – you may make this change on your application, even after open enrollment has ended. Note that this may change your eligibility for the type of insurance which you are receiving and/or the government subsidies for which you are eligible.

Essentially, you want your income on the Healthplanfinder to match up with the income which you report to the IRS.

Question: I receive rental income. Do I report my gross or net rental income?

Answer: Net rental income*. Net rental income is determined by subtracting allowable rental costs from the gross rental income.

*Please note that there are exceptions. You should report the income which you report on your taxes and refer to an accountant for specific questions.

Self employed? We Have Answers to Your Health Insurance Questions

Written by AmeriCorps Member, Natasha Pietila
In the past few weeks we have received many questions about how to report self-employment income on Washington Healthplanfinder applications. Below we discuss one question in particular which impacts thousands of people in Washington.
Question: I’m self-employed; When I report income my health insurance application, do I report my gross or net income?
Answer: Net. Net self-employment income is determined by subtracting allowable business costs from the gross income.
According to the Health Care Authority, self-employed persons may report their net income as opposed to their gross income. These allowable business costs are outlined by the IRS, on Schedule C and the net income is reported on Line 12 of Income Tax Return, Form 1040. If your self-employment income has not changed since last year, you may use the net income reported on last year’s 1040, on your health insurance application.

Tags: health insurance   self employment   Washington HealthPlanFinder   

What To Consider When Buying a Qualified Health Plan

Written by AmeriCorps Members Kari Geiger and Lisa Andersen
There are two categories of health insurance available through the Washington Healthplanfinder: Washington Apple Health, also known as Medicaid, and QHPs (Qualified Health Plans), which are paid plans for those who have higher income but still qualify for government assistance.

What is a QHP?
Qualified Health Plans are similar to the traditional health insurance plans that existed prior to the Healthplanfinder, with a few essential differences:

1)    QHPs must cover the Ten Essential Benefits, as mandated by the Federal Government.
2)    QHPs cannot deny coverage because of preexisting conditions.
3)    QHP costs may be subsidized by the Federal Government, through tax credits (Health Insurance Premium Tax Credits) and cost-sharing reductions.
4)    QHPs can be compared, side-to-side, on the Washington Healthplanfinder.
Please note: Dental coverage is not included in QHPs for adults but can be purchased, separately. Many plans do not offer adult vision coverage, but do offer adult hearing coverage.*

How can I narrow my search?

By medical provider:

  • Click “Add”, listed under “Health Care Provider” in the “My Search” box, located on the upper left-hand side of the QHP selection screen.
  • In the pop-up window,  search by:  your provider’s name, hospital, or zip code.

By price range:

  • Cost parameters for premium, deductible, and out-of-pocket maximum, can be controlled by clicking on the price-range options in the “Customize My Search” box on the left-hand side of the QHP selection screen. For definitions of these, and other health-insurance related terms, refer to this glossary from the Federal Government.
  • Another method for cost-based comparison is to search for plans based on metal level. There are three metal levels: bronze, silver and gold. These search options are located in the “customize my search” box on the left-hand side of the QHP selection screen. The Federal Government recommends considering medical needs when selecting a plan because “the lower the premium, the higher the out-of-pocket costs when you need care; the higher the premium, the lower the out-of-pocket costs when you need care”.

By comparison with other plans:

  • To select a plan for comparison, click the “Add to Comparison” option, located in each plan’s box. You can compare three plans, side-to-side, at a time.
  •  Once you have selected plans for comparison, click the “View Comparison” tab, located at the top of the page.

Do I have to buy through the Washington Health Plan Finder?
No. However, you must purchase a plan through the Washington Healthplanfinder if you want to receive tax credits.

How do I enroll in a QHP?
1.    Once you have, selected a plan, click “Buy”.
2.     If you are ineligible for tax credits, please skip to step 3. If you are eligible for tax credits, you will be allowed to select how the tax credits will be applied. For more information about applying the tax credit, please refer to this blog entry.
3.    Next, you will be required to pay for your first month of coverage. When purchasing a QHP, have an electronic form of payment ready to make the initial payment – either an eCheck , a debit card, or a credit card.  For questions about subsequent payments, contact your QHP provider or the Washington Healthplanfinder customer support at: 1-855-923-4633.

What is the last day for buying a QHP?
The end of Open Enrollment and the deadline to get coverage, is March 31st, 2014 in order to avoid a penalty on your 2014 taxes. You should purchase a plan by March 23rd in order to ensure that your enrollment is processed and that your coverage is active by March 31st, 2014.

What happens after I buy a QHP?
Please to refer to this blog entry for information on what happens after purchasing a QHP.

I’m still confused. Where do I get help?
There are two types of help: Navigators and Brokers. Both services are free for you to use through the Washington Healthplanfinder. When selecting a QHP, keep in mind that Navigators are legally unable to recommend specific plans. For advice about which plan will be best for you and your family’s needs, contact a Broker – they are legally allowed to recommend plans. Brokers can be found through the Washington Healthplanfinder:
1.    Click on the “Customer Service” tab in the upper right hand corner.
2.    To search for a Broker in your area, enter your zip code.
Please note: Before clicking “Request Help” we recommend that you call and/or email the Broker you are interested in partnering with, to insure their availability.

*Finding Dental, Hearing, and Vision Coverage for each plan: To see whether or not a plan covers adult dental, vision, or hearing:
1.    Click on the blue, “More Information on this plan” link located under the name of each plan.
2.    Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “See More Details”.
3.    Scroll down to the bottom of the page, again, and click the blue, “Open Summary of Benefits and Coverage” link.
4.    This will open a document that summarizes the entirety of the health plan. Search for the section titled “Excluded Services & Other Covered Services.”  This will detail coverage for dental, eye, and hearing care.

Tags: Medicaid   Qualified Health Plan   Washington HealthPlanFinder   

I bought health insurance through the Washington Healthplanfinder. What’s next?

Written by Erin Milliren and Natasha Pietila

Question: I’ve enrolled in health insurance through the Washington Healthplanfinder. What happens next?

Answer: You can expect to receive your health insurance cards in the mail, along with information from your health insurance company and an eligibility letter from the Washington Healthplanfinder. Depending on the type of health insurance you are enrolled in, you will receive different information and items in the mail.

If you are enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan (i.e. a paid plan) you will receive the following information:
1)    A card from the plan you selected and bought
2)    You can also expect to receive information from that insurance company about your coverage
3)    You will either receive an email or letter from the Washington Healthplanfinder stating which insurance plan you purchased and listing your coverage start and end dates

Question: When I submitted my application I was told that I’m eligible for tax credits. What does this mean?

Answer: It sounds like you are eligible for the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit (HIPTC) which is designed to make your insurance options more affordable.* The amount of the credit is estimated instantaneously by the Healthplanfinder, based on the information you reported on your application. It is important that you update your income, if it changes, because the IRS will verify the tax credit amount when you file your taxes. The IRS Facts About The Premium Tax Credit sheet explains how you can use this tax credit:

–    Get It Now: have some or all of the estimated credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company to lower what you pay out-of-pocket for your monthly premiums during 2014; or
–    Get It Later: wait to get the credit when you file your 2014 tax return in 2015

All of these methods can be managed on your Washington Healthplanfinder account.

*For a brief explanation about the purpose of the HIPTC, you can refer to this information from the Federal Government.

Here’s a review of what to expect when you become enrolled in Washington Apple Health:

If you are enrolled in Washington Apple Health (i.e. Medicaid) you will receive the following information:
1)    A blue ProviderOne card, which is imprinted with information about your Medicaid coverage
2)    A card from the Managed Care Provider (i.e. insurance company) to whom you will be assigned. There are five Managed Care Providers: Amerigroup, Community Health Plan, Coordinated Care, Molina, and United Healthcare
3)    You can also expect to receive a Healthy Options booklet which contains information about your coverage
4)    You will either receive an email  or letter from the Washington Healthplanfinder stating that you are enrolled in Washington Apple Health and listing your coverage start and end dates

For more information, please see our blog post specifically dedicated to Apple Health.

Question: How long does it take to receive my health insurance cards?

Answer: According to Washington’s Healthcare Authority it will take about a month after your completed Apple Health enrollment to get you all set up with your health plan. If you need to go to a doctor or fill a prescription before your cards arrive, you can go to any doctor, health clinic, or pharmacy that accepts Apple Health. If you tell a provider or pharmacist your name, date of birth, and Social Security number, they can look you up online and find your ProviderOne client number.

You can find healthcare providers in your area at ParentHelp123.org.

Tags: Healthplan Finder   Washington Apple Health   

Pregnant Teens and Washington Apple Health for Pregnancy: How to Apply!

Written by WithinReach Bilingual Outreach and Enrollment Specialist José Villalobos

As of October 1st 2013 the application process for Medicaid and other health insurance plans has changed.  Many of you have heard about the Healthplanfinder website  created to make applying simple. Applications submitted on this site return real-time eligibility results and enrolling is easier than ever.
However, the application process for pregnant teens attempting to sign-up for Washington State Apple Health for Pregnancy (formerly known as First Steps) is different.Currently, the Healthplanfinder cannot appropriately screen for and enroll a pregnant teen into the pregnancy medical program.  As a work-around, the Health Care Authority created a paper application to expedite the enrollment process. Applying is completely confidential. Enrolling in Medicaid for pregnancy is important because it offers women and teens access to a variety of services including:

•    Termination
•    Prenatal care
•    Delivery
•    Post pregnancy follow-up
•    Dental care
•    One year of family planning services
•    Newborns receive one year of full medical

This program also provides enhanced services such as Maternity Support Services, Infant Case Management and Childbirth Education.  Teens looking to apply for coverage worry about having to report their parent’s income but for this program, no income or resource limits are taken into consideration.  Any Washington State resident under 19 and pregnant is eligible! To apply, click on the following link, fill-out the form and send it to the Health Care Authority. Pregnant Teen Health Care Coverage. If you have any questions feel free to contact the WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 to speak with our friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Tags: pregnant teens   Washington Apple Health   

Health Insurance Enrollment: Which Dates Matter?

Written by AmeriCorps member, Natasha Pietila
All the new dates surrounding open enrollment for health insurance can be confusing. We have answers to some of the most common questions we have been hearing from people calling our Family Health Hotline.
I’ve heard that I need to have health insurance coverage by the end of March. Is this true?

 Yes. You may qualify for coverage that is of no cost to you, or coverage that will require you to pay a premium. The Affordable Care Act requires most U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents* to have health insurance coverage for at least 9 months of the year. Therefore, it would be best to enroll by the March 23 deadline so as to get coverage by April 1st and avoid paying a penalty on your 2014 taxes.

I have insurance through my employer at this time, but there is a chance that I will be laid off in the next few months. Will I be able to enroll in insurance after March 23rd without receiving a penalty?

Yes. Certain qualifying events like the loss of a job enable you to enroll without a penalty. For a list of other qualifying events, please refer to this list from the Federal government. Also, if you qualify for free coverage through Washington Apple Health (aka Expanded Medicaid), you need not worry since Washington Apple Health enrollment remains open, year-round.

*The Affordable Care Act mandates that Americans have health insurance, beginning in 2014. Those without insurance may be required to pay a penalty on their 2014 taxes. Some may be exempt from this mandate and will not have to pay a penalty if they do not have health insurance. For more information on these exemption eligibility requirements, please refer to this infographic from The Kaiser Family Foundation.

Tags: health insurance   Medicaid   Open Enrollment   Washington Apple Health   

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