And for what may be, with any luck at all, the last time … ObamaCare!
I know — me, too. But it’s real now!
A while back, when going on about “ObamaCare,” I said, “Let’s get on with it;” well, it’s time to GET ON WITH IT!
In the interests of “full disclosure” (which almost never happens), this is going to be a rather boring column because it’s going to be all about ways help with (or just deal with) ObamaCare. If this doesn’t touch you, or anybody you like, in any way, please feel free to go directly to the front page or editorial section for a higher level of … entertainment.
The rest of us — who do need to deal with it! — need to focus, so I’m going to try to put everything I know about “help” and “access” in one column, so cut this out and attach it to the fridge with the RED magnet. Ready?
Twelve days ago — Oct. 1 — “open enrollment” began, which means that you can now actually do this. IF you do it before late December, your health insurance coverage, be it Medicaid or a “Qualified Health Plan, will begin on January 1, 2014. If you do it after January 1st (and you can, through March 31st), your coverage will begin the first day of the following month, e.g. April 1, 2014 (NOTE: IF you qualify for Medicaid, you may well have a retroactive start-date), AND you will have avoided the dreaded “PENALTY.”
You are not required to have “help.” You can go directly to www.wahealthplanfinder.org and have at it, OR you could give it a shot, and if it gets too weird, you can then go looking for help. You can also call the Customer Support Center any weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 1-855-923-4633 or you can e-mail them at email@example.com and get help. It’s all free.
If you prefer face-to-face or more local help — it’s all free — here’s what you can do: You can call any of the numbers at the end of this column, and decent people will help you. You can go to Grays Harbor Public Health (2109 Sumner, 532-8631), from 8:00-12:00 or 1:00-5:00 for in-person help. They also have two kiosks available, which means computers that you can get on to do the whole thing yourself, remembering that there will be help around, if you need it.
You can go to Sea Mar Community Health Center in Aberdeen, 1813 Sumner, 538-1293, from 8:00-5:00, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, or from 8:00-9:00 on Wednesdays, for the night owls — FYI, they also have a kiosk available. Sea Mar also has a clinic in Ocean Shores (597 Point Brown Avenue NW, 289-2427).
In Pacific County, you can still call any of the numbers at the end of this columns, talk to Cowlitz Family Health Center (21610 Pacific Highway in Ocean Park, 665-3300) or Valley View Health Center in Raymond, 300 Ocean Avenue, 942-3040.
Remember, this is all free, and nobody will try to sell you anything, because they don’t have anything to sell. They will help you navigate the “HealthPlanFinder” and understand what it’s saying, what it wants you to do and what the various terms mean, but you will be The Decider.
If you decide to go to one of these locations, you’ll want to know how much money you (and everyone who lives with you who is required to file a tax return) make and everybody’s last year’s tax filing status. Bring dates of birth, social security numbers for everyone applying for health insurance AND, if any of you currently have any kind of health insurance, bring that info, too – It’s in YOUR best interests. Legal immigrants will want to bring passport, alien or other immigration numbers for everyone who needs health coverage.
Remember, please, that you don’t have to do everything at once or decide everything at once. IF you have a computer and internet access, you might consider going to the HealthPlanFinder at the address above, and just “cruise it” – See what you see, what it says, what it seems to want from you, etc., then go looking for help, but if that doesn’t work for you, that’s fine.
Take a breath – I just did.
Look, for all the noise and the news and my incessant columns, this is NOT that complicated! And for many of us, it’s a huge opportunity to find health insurance, which for many of us means finding health CARE, so just do it. And if you start messing with it now, you can have some time to think and learn before we all get totally sideways with the holidays.
Here are the two worst things you can do: (A) Nothing, and (B) Listen to rumors. Check it out for yourself, then decide for yourself and do what you think is best for you and yours.
We can do this.
Mark Harvey is the director of Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.