Changes Coming to Washington Apple Health

Changes Coming to Washington Apple Health

Starting in 2019, Apple Health (Medicaid) plans will cover behavioral health treatment services, in addition to the already covered physical health services. Read on to find out what this means for Apple Health clients and what you need to know to answer their questions.

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BHT's Navigator, Israel Vidales, Goes to D.C. for 2018 Families USA Conference

The Navigator Network team gave their newest team member, Israel Vidales, the opportunity to attend the 2018 Families USA conference in Washington D.C. last month. Israel learned about the various ideas that states are planning with their Medicaid waivers. These ideas included Medicaid buy-in options and payment reform. He also attended a panel discussion on lowering prescription costs and how states were strategizing to implement bills pertaining to price gouging and drug pricing transparency. Israel had the pleasure of hearing inspiring speeches from Senators Cory Brooker, which can be found here, and Elizabeth Warren, which can be found here. Besides the exciting topics and speakers from the conference, Israel managed to visit all the national monuments around the D.C area. Out of all the monuments, he enjoyed the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Our Navigator team are making east coast connections and enjoying the sites in their spare time.

Better Health Together selected to manage in-person assistance for Eastern Washington

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced the selection of Better Health Together to oversee in-person assistance provided to residents of Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams and Whitman Counties during the upcoming open enrollment period scheduled to begin on Nov. 1.

Better Health Together is one of nine public health agencies, regional health networks, and community organizations selected to provide free support to individuals and families signing up for coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder and one of two in the state with an active storefront.

“Given the uncertainty currently surrounding healthcare, the support and communication Better Health Together and all other lead organizations provide is especially essential,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Their outreach and education efforts offer reliable assistance at a time when many residents may have questions about their coverage.”

Better Health Together is responsible for building and managing a network of navigators who are available to guide individuals and families through the enrollment process, determine how well their current health plans worked, and explore new coverage options.

During the previous open enrollment period, more than 225,000 Washingtonians utilized resources provided by Better Health Together and other lead organizations located across the state to enroll in health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder.

“Being selected has given us the ability to provide this service and stability to the community twelve months a year in our new enrollment center, instead of what used to be three months,” said Curt Fackler, Navigator Program Manager of Better Health Together.

Better Health Together’s Navigator Network launched in 2013 with the goal of enrolling 10,000 people in health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Today, Better Health Together’s Navigator Network has enrolled and re-enrolled over 100,000 people, dropping the uninsured rate to less than 5% in the region.

Updates from Open Enrollment

Our Navigator team has been busy, as we are now two thirds of the way through Open Enrollment meaning folks now only have until January 31st to renew or enroll in health coverage. Navigators have worked tirelessly since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2013 to cut Washington’s uninsured rate by providing direct assistance to individuals who need help enrolling. Their work has paid off, with the statewide rate dropping from 14.3% to a record low of 5.8% in 2015. We’ve seen even more dramatic decreases specific to our own region, largely due to Navigators efforts to be active and out in the community engaging families when they need help. Adams County for example, dropped from 23.1% to just 3.5%. 

We have continued to see high demand for health care sign ups despite the percentage of uninsured dwindling. The team is well on their way to signing up over 1,000 people at the Open Enrollment Storefront.  

This drop in uninsured rates is by no means the only success Washington state has seen since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2013, we’ve also seen:

  • 750,000 people gain access to care
  • 51,000 health related jobs created in the state, and 1,335 of them in the Better Health Together region in 2015
  • Healthcare inflation slowed to a historically low rate of 3%

Better Health Together has been so grateful for these opportunities presented by the ACA to open up access to care for so many of our community members. We continue to watch closely national and state efforts to preserve access to care. To read even more about the impact of the ACA on coverage and economic development, read this recently released report from the Washington State office of Financial Management

Almost time to renew your health insurance!

Open Enrollment is approaching!

Better Health Together has worked tirelessly to help reduce the rate of uninsured residents in Eastern Washington through our Navigator Network. Navigators are available to answer questions about coverage, and help folks enroll in health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. 

What is open enrollment?

Open enrollment is the once-a-year period in which you can register for health insurance. It begins November 1, and is available through January 31. A lot of people don't realize this is the only time of year you can enroll in or change your qualified health plans, excluding some special circumstances. 

Why does it matter to me?

Under the Affordable Care Act, it is now mandatory to have health insurance, whether through an employer, self-purchased or under public programs like Medicaid. If you are signed up for insurance through your employer, they will likely handle the renewal for you. Medicaid enrollment is available year round, and there are special enrollment periods for folks experiencing major life changes that may shift eligibility, such as losing a job, moving, or having a baby. However, if you have your own qualified health plan, and you want to renew or change your plan, November 1st 2016 - January 31st 2017 is your only chance! Better Health Together is here to help you get ready to enroll!

 

How and where do I go to register?

There are several options:

1.     Online: There is an application available at: https://www.healthcare.gov/screener/

2.     By phone: Better Health Together can personally help you sign up at (509) 321-7500. We have real friendly human beings ready to help you, and all of our services are free. 

3.     By mail: The printable application is available at: https://marketplace.cms.gov/applications-and-forms/marketplace-application-for-family.pdf

4.     In person: There are approximately 85 navigators in the Eastern Washington region, stationed in clinics, hospitals, services and places where people gather. CHAS Clinics, Unify Community Health Center, and Providence Sacred Heart Hospital are just a few examples of places where Navigators work. 

Here in Spokane County, uninsured rates have fallen from 13.1% to down around 3%. Next to engaging those final folks in the enrollment process, the big goal for the Navigator Network is to keep that number down by making sure renewal rates stay high, and folks are supported when life changes effect their coverage. No matter your level of coverage, BHT Navigators are ready to answer your questions and help you and your family stay covered.

Give us a call! (509) 321-7500

Great Results from Open Enrollment

Wow, according to the Health Benefit Exchange, Washington state enrolled or re-enrolled over 200,000 people in health insurance during Open Enrollment (November-January). This number is up 35% over last year during this time period.

We could not have achieved these results without our robust Navigator Network as well as the hard working team at BHT. I am grateful to our friends at CHAS and Columbia Basin Health Association who were some of our biggest producers!

Remember: if your clients, patients or friends have any life-changing event (have a baby, lose a job, retire), it will likely make them eligible for a special enrollment period; we are here to help.

An important deadline is just hours away!

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If your clients, friends, family need health insurance coverage in 2016 coverage, you must enroll by December 23 at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

We know this is a busy time of year, but you won’t want to miss this deadline. Our BHT Navigator Team stands ready to help, call us at (509) 321 7500. 

What you need to know:

  • Join the millions. Since Open Enrollment began, already almost 3 million Americans have signed up for coverage that will start on January 1.
  • Financial Help is available to make coverage more affordable. About 8 in 10 of the uninsured who are eligible for coverage qualify for financial assistance to lower the cost of their monthly premiums.
  • For current Washington Healthplanfinder consumers, this is the time when you can come back, shop and compare your current plan with others available in your area for 2016 and select the plan that’s right for you.
  • It pays to shop. There may be plans available that offer the services you need, include more doctors, or save you money.

Open Enrollment Launched November 1st

There was a lot less fanfare than our first Open Enrollment period and fortunately a lot less technical glitches—but BHT is at it again. We want to make sure every person in our region has health insurance. As of March 31, 2015 we were under 5%; our goal is to get that number down to 2% this year. We can do it!

Thanks to our robust Navigator Network of 125 on-the-ground partners, our dedicated BHT Navigator team and our plan to participate in more than 40 community events, we are confident we will meet our goal to enroll/reenroll 4,000 people between November 1 and January 31. We are focused this year on individuals who are eligible for Qualified Health Plans; these are the people who can are eligible for a tax subsidy to purchase health insurance.

The Navigator Network of Eastern Washington

The Navigator Network of Eastern Washington has 150 assisters and 48 partners in 7 counties.

The Navigator Network launched with a target enrollment goal of 10,000 participants in qualified healthcare plans. Within the first two years, the Network dramatically exceeded this number, enrolling more than 100,000 participants. Because of this work, more than 95% of our region has insurance coverage.

Our network’s tremendous success comes from the web of diverse partners connected across our region. Visit the Regional Impact Map to see the collaboration and reach of The Navigator Network.

These partners represent many sectors including: Community health clinics, hospitals, public health, nonprofit organizations, faith based community organizations, behavioral health providers, the criminal justice system, aging and long-term care, affordable housing agencies, libraries, early learning, K-12 education, and higher education.

This vast network has reached population segments including un/underinsured people, older adults, people with disabilities, low-income individuals and families, people experiencing homelessness, foster youth, prison and re-entry populations, people with limited English proficiency, migrant workers, small businesses, rural populations, and the region’s diverse racial/ethnic populations.

Throughout the year, BHT coordinates numerous outreach activities leading up to the annual open enrollment period for health insurance. We also strategically reach out to people who qualify for special enrollment, such as people losing other coverage due to a change in employment or income. This work happens at community-based events, through community based partnerships, higher education, with the business sector, and in faith-based settings. Overall, we have engaged more than 60,000 individuals through direct, in-person outreach and awareness activities.

Spotlight: Juan Sandoval, Director of Health Connections, Columbia Basin Health Association (CBHA)

  Juan Sandoval    Director of Health COnnection    |      Columbia Basin Health Association

Juan Sandoval 
Director of Health COnnection
 |  Columbia Basin Health Association

Before joining CBHA, Juan Sandoval’s occupation related to farm work, where he met many people who could not afford to pay their medical bills or who were not aware of the programs for which they could qualify.

Juan Sandoval’s work at CBHA seeks to educate community members and raise awareness about state and federal programs available to them. He assists clients with the application process to establish eligibility and enroll in the health insurance program that best fits their needs.

In conjunction with Better Health Together and other local partners, Sandoval has implemented marketing initiatives to conduct outreach and education. He is heartened by the improvement he’s seen over the years in regards to health care awareness.

More and more people now understand the importance of having some type of coverage. He feels especially rewarded helping patients who are impacted by stressful situations experiencing chronic conditions.