Resilience Review Column – Spread the Word: Get Everyone Insured!

Here is Local 20/20’s November column in the Port Townsend Leader (go to page 9 of the Good Works section), titled “Resilience Review”. (Thank you, PT Leader!) It is copied below, as submitted.

Spread the Word: Get Everyone Insured!

By Mark Secord

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) coverage in 2014, the share of our neighbors who lack health insurance has dropped from over 12% to about 6% in Jefferson County.  But that means we still have more than 1,700 people without insurance among us.

A group from Citizens for Healthcare Access, part of Local 20/20’s Health and Wellness Action Group, is launching a community wide campaign to raise awareness about the availability of insurance, what the facts are, and what the cost will be.   It’s more important than ever this year, given the confusion resulting from the raging political debate in Washington D.C.

You can help!  We are eager to mobilize organizations and citizens to help spread the word.   Most of us know someone who is uninsured—a son or daughter, friend, or maybe a store clerk that we interact with.

If someone isn’t insured through their employer or through a program like Medicare or Medicaid (Apple Health), Washington State’s Health Insurance Exchange is where individuals and families need to turn for health coverage.  Open enrollment began November 1st and extends in our State to January 15th.  (You must enroll by December 15th to have coverage effective January 1st.)

Due to the elimination of federal Cost Sharing Reductions and uncertainty in the market generated by this year’s political turmoil, as well as rising medical and pharmaceutical cost trends, the average cost of a policy has risen 36% in Washington State.  That’s particularly bad news for people paying full premium in the individual market.  But for lower income folks, the good news is that tax credit subsidies have risen along with the premiums.

Take, for example, a single woman who lives in Port Townsend, is 62 and living on $19,500 per year.  With few health issues, she is uninsured and holding out for the day she is covered by Medicare.  She assumes the cost of coverage is out of sight—and, she wonders, “Isn’t Obamacare collapsing anyway?”  With a check on the Exchange website, wahealthplanfinder.org, she finds a range of plan choices.  One of the health plans has a $750 deductible and has a premium of $749 per month—beyond her means.  But, because of her relatively low income, she would receive a $660 tax credit offset, so her net cost is $89 per month.  It’s still a lot of money in her budget, but she’s considering it.

Plan coverage details and tax credit subsidies vary by age, sex and income.  If you or someone you know needs help, visit one of the Sea Mar navigators who are available at the Department of Social and Health Services office at 915 Sheridan Street on Mondays between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Call Sandra Padilla at (253) 280-9880 or email her at SandraPadilla@seamarchc.org for an appointment.

For those 1,700 of our neighbors who are uninsured our campaign message is simple:  You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to check out your options and see if you can afford the cost of health insurance.

Event Details:

A workshop for people who want to understand more about health insurance available for individuals and families in Jefferson County in 2018 and who want to help, even in a small way, in a community-wide effort to get people enrolled.

Presenters from Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Lead Navigator Organization for Jefferson County will present and there will be ample time for your questions.

  • Health insurance options, qualifying family income levels and costs of coverage.
  • Dispel some of the myths about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) coverage.
  • Basics of how to navigate the wahealthplanfinder.org website.
  • Who to turn to for assistance.
  • How to get active and make a difference in our community.

When:  6:00—7:30 PM, Tuesday November 28th

Where:  Victor J. Dirksen Conference Room of Jefferson Healthcare, 834 Sheridan St.

 

Bio: Mark Secord is current chair of Jefferson County Citizens for Healthcare Access, an arm of the Health and Wellness Action Group of Local 20/20.  A resident of Marrowstone Island he is a retired health administrator, having served as executive director of Neighborcare Health, a community health center in Seattle.

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