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Friday, 1 February 2013

Be Prepared for Health Care Reform

The YWCA's Health Access blog posted a very informative and helpful article about Health Care Reform. Even though finding a provider who is sensitive to LBTQ needs and concerns can feel daunting, it is important to understand the changes that are happening to health care so you can know what your options are. Read the post below:

Different pieces of health care reform have been implemented and many of us are preparing for more changes this fall and early in 2014. There is a lot of information out there on health care reform and these changes, and often I just feel overwhelmed by it all.

The federal government has a website that is completely dedicated to health care reform: It has a lot of great information, including this list of steps for individuals and families.

Given that health care reform is so big and can feel overwhelming to the Average Jane as well as health professionals, I suggest taking it in small doses.

First, learn about different types of health insurance. If you live in Washington state, learn about Washington Health Plan Finder. The exchange is set to go live in October 2013. Also visit this site to learn more about basic insurance options including Medicaid and, for those not able to afford insurance coverage, access to free or reduced/low-cost services at community health clinics in your neighborhood.

Second, make a list of questions you have before it’s time to choose your health plan. This will help you be prepared when that time comes, and you’ll feel confident you’re making a choice that works best for you and your family. It’s possible not everyone in your family will end up with the same coverage, so check out eligibility for each and every family member.

Third, learn about how insurance works. This site on insurance basics can answer your questions on types of plans and network restrictions, and different kinds of policies.

Fourth, gather basic information on your household income. says that most people will qualify to get a break on costs (premium or out-of-pocket), and that we’ll need income information to find out how much we’re eligible for.

Fifth, set your budget. Find out how much you can pay for insurance and then look at plans that fit your needs and budget. When looking at options in the Washington Health Care Exchange, you will be able to access clear information about different services, benefits, and costs right there, and compare different options available to and affordable for you.

Sixth, find out about possible employer-based health plans. Even if you work at a small business, you might have access to a health insurance plan through your employer.

Seventh, explore your options. There are plans that exist now that might work for your needs and budget. Do some research to see what is available now, and what options we can expect in the near future.

Washington’s Health Care Exchange goes live in the fall. At that point, when we have questions, we’ll be able to speak to representatives at a call center or meet with a navigator or receive other forms in-person assistance. Be sure to reach out and ask questions! This is a new system for all of us.


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