Building Healthy Families in Washington
Have you ever tried to call your bank, but couldn’t get a real person on the phone to answer your question? Or gotten stuck filling out a form online and didn’t know who to call? Systems can be overwhelming even for the savviest of us. They can be even more overwhelming for families with limited resources. That’s where our Healthy Connections Team comes in – trusted experts in navigating systems and local resources. We work with families to connect them to resources they need to be healthy and safe, including health insurance.
This month, the Healthy Connections Team was given an award from Public Health – Seattle & King County for enrolling 3,657 King County residents into health insurance from November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017. WithinReach has been assisting families in obtaining health insurance during Open Enrollment since the inception of the Affordable Care Act four years ago. This year, our team was the top community service organization for enrollment numbers in King County!
What makes the Healthy Connections Team unique is that our outreach specialists and coordinators meet people where they are at – whether it’s providing information online, enrolling people in benefits programs over the phone, or meeting them in-person where they are. We understand the best way to connect people to the services they need is to eliminate the barriers standing in their way.
Many people don’t realize that if someone is referred to a service, it doesn’t mean that they actually receive the service. Sometimes, the application process may not be in a language they understand. Or they may always reach a busy signal when trying to call. Oftentimes, people don’t understand the qualifications for benefits or exactly what the benefits are. These are all things the Healthy Connections Team can navigate to make sure Washington families receive the support they need.
The Team is located in Seattle but provides services to people across the state. All of our team members are certified King County Navigators, trained to know the various health coverage options in Washington and help with eligibility and enrollment forms. Through this work, Washington families get connected to everything they need to be healthy and safe. To learn more about what the Healthy Connection team does, check out our ParentHelp123.org website!
Five FAQ’s About Health Care Coverage in Washington
Written by WithinReach AmeriCorps member, Lisa Andersen
There’s been no shortage of questions during Washington’s first month of health insurance open enrollment. Here are some questions we’ve heard from lots of people who want to sign up for health insurance coverage:
1. This is confusing – where can I get help with my application?
There are lots of ways to get help! The Washington HealthPlanFinder has a list of assisters who can help you: click the “customer support” tab in the top right corner of the page, and then click “find a navigator” on the drop-down menu. You can search by zip code for a navigator in your area. I suggest calling or emailing the navigator before partnering with them, just to explain the basics of your application and ensure that the navigator will be able to help you in a timely manner. If you live in King County, you can also search for enrollment events near you where navigators will be present to help you with your application in person. A list of enrollment events in King County is available here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/personal/coverage/calendar.aspx.
At WithinReach we are also certified as “in-person assisters” by the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange, and regardless of your financial situation, we are here to guide you through this new system and help you understand and apply for health insurance. Visit our ParentHelp123 Benefit Finder or call the WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 today to get started.
2. When do I need to sign up by, so I don’t have to pay a penalty fee?
There are several dates floating around that can be confusing for people who want to sign up for health care. We are often asked if people will be penalized for not signing up for health coverage by January 1st. Everyone should know that you have a lot more time than that to sign up for coverage before you have to pay a penalty fee. Coverage starts on January 1st, 2014, but you don’t have to send in your application before March 31st, 2014, if you don’t want to. You won’t get coverage until you sign up, but you can sign up at any point between now and 31 March without having to pay a fee.
3. What if I submit my application for health care, and then my financial situation changes drastically? What if I get a raise, or lose my job? Will I have to pay the same premium for the rest of the year?
Not to worry: if something in your life changes drastically after you submit your application, you are allowed to change your application without a penalty. Simply log in to your HealthPlanFinder account and click on the “Report a Change in Income or Household” link. The HealthPlanFinder will be able to calculate your premiums based on your new situation, and will prompt you to scan documents to verify your new situation if needed.
4. Will Medicaid pay for visits to the dentist?
Dental coverage is undoubtedly a huge concern for many Washingtonians who haven’t seen the dentist in months or even years. If you are eligible for Medicaid, you WILL HAVE dental insurance starting 1 January 2014. Dental coverage is being re-instated for Medicaid patients, so Medicaid patients who have not previously been able to see the dentist will be able to this January.
5. What about dental care for people who don’t qualify for Medicaid? Do the health plans on the Health Benefit Exchange cover dentist visits for adults or kids?
Health insurance plans purchased through the exchange are NOT required to include dental coverage, so be sure to read the details of the plan you want to sign up for to find out if dental coverage is offered or not. If you have kids under the age of 19, you will be required to have pediatric dental coverage for them, even if the health insurance plan you bought through the exchange does not offer it. That means you will have to purchase a pediatric dental plan in addition to your health plan.