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

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

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.

South Park “blitz” — spreading the word about health insurance

By Penny Lara, Access and Outreach Project Manager

In the South Park neighborhood this month, you could find a group of “Promotoras” (Community Health Workers) from the South Park Information and Resource Center (SPIARC), members of the Western Washington National Association of Hispanic Nurses (WW-NAHN), UW School of Nursing students and staff from Public Health – Seattle & King County out canvassing.  Together, we walked through South Park and talked with community members about the ongoing open enrollment for health insurance coverage.

Continue reading and see the photos: South Park “blitz”— spreading the news about health insurance enrollment at Public Health Insider, a new blog from Public Health – Seattle & King County.


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

‘Tis the season to get enrolled (or make changes) in health insurance

2013 Blitz - Volunteer tacks freshly printed Washington Healthplanfinder posters in White Center, a year ago.

2013 Blitz – Volunteer tacks freshly printed Washington Healthplanfinder posters in White Center, a year ago.

Next Friday, November 15, launches the second season to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Washington Healthplanfinder. Local efforts are stepping up.

Today, groups including staff from several Community Health Centers, Public Health staff, the network of 23 enrollment partners, and volunteers will distribute posters and flyers to locations throughout King County, such as community centers, libraries, YMCAs, and business districts

The groups will canvass neighborhoods to raise awareness about Open Enrollment, which runs from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. During this period, insurance policies are available with financial help through the Healthplanfinder website. To find out if you might qualify, type in your zip code, age and income into the form, and browse the options.

Anyone whose income qualifies for free coverage can sign up any time of year.  But the period for everyone else is limited each year. This year, new options are available for small businesses, too.

The goal: a healthier King County

King County made it a countywide priority to ensure all residents who are eligible for health coverage are enrolled. The evidence is clear: When people have access to affordable health care, they lead healthier, more productive lives.

Many people, who previously found health insurance financially out of reach, now qualify for free or low-cost insurance.

King County is promoting health insurance enrollment as part of our ongoing work to provide a safety net for those having trouble accessing the healthcare system — and as part of Executive Dow Constantine’s broader “Coverage is Here, King County” campaign, with a goal of ensuring that all King County residents have affordable access to health care.

Want to get involved?

Follow the conversation on social media and help spread the word. Use the #coverkc and #coverageishere hashtags and link up with Washington Healthplanfinder, Coverage is Here, and Public Health — Seattle & King County on Facebook and on Twitter at @Waplanfinder, @Coverageishere and @KCPubhealth.

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


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.