Open Enrollment Tips, Part 4: "Other" Deductions To Know About

At some point in the Marketplace and Medicaid applications, you get asked if you pay alimony, student loan interest, or "other" deductions. Just what are those "other deductions?" If you have them, you can essentially lower the income that is counted as MAGI, or Modified Adjusted Gross Income

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The way that works is, if you have income of $20,000 and you pay $300 in student loan interest, your "counted" annual income is only $19,700. If you also paid $2,000 into an IRA, your "counted" annual income becomes $17,700.

When your Modified Adjusted Gross Income is lower, you may qualify for more tax credits, or even for cost-sharing

For the most part, the things that you would be able to deduct are things on the bottom half of the front page of your 1040 tax form. 

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Why "Other" can be a beautiful thing

Remember: the healthcare.gov enrollment application specifically asks you about alimony and student loan interest, but the "other" category may be both interesting and useful.

People who are self-employed, who are actively paying tuition, or who want to invest in retirement through an IRA or in a health savings account may find a path to higher tax credits and increased cost sharing with just a bit of attention to that "other" category.

If you need tax advice about what is deductible, contact your accountant or talk to a tax preparer. We can answer questions or give advice about general tax filing but are not accounts.  If you are low income, contact the United Way and ask about their VITA tax program or check out their free online tax help at MyFreeTaxes.

As always, if you have questions, leave us a comment or give us a call at (734) 544-3030. We Help People--LIKE YOU!

--R. Kraut

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Open Enrollment Tips, Part 3: Should I Choose A Dental Plan?

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After you choose a health insurance plan on the Marketplace (healthcare.gov), you generally will get a screen that says that dental insurance is not included. Would you like dental insurance?

If you answer yes, you will be directed to look at some of the dental insurance plans on the Marketplace.

How does individual dental insurance work?

In general, individual dental insurance is similar to individual health insurance in two ways:

  1. You pay a monthly premium.
  2. Preventive care (cleanings and x-rays) are covered 100% and are encouraged. Other procedures will be covered at different percentages (50%, 80%, 100%) depending on the procedure, the dental network, and the company. Just like with most health insurance, dental insurance works with a "network" of providers, and out of network providers may be covered at a much lower cost, or not at all.

Individual dental insurance is different from individual health insurance in two ways.

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  1. More significant procedures (fillings, crowns, extractions, root canals, bridges, dentures) often have a waiting period of 6 or 12 months before you can use the benefit. 
  2. Most individual dental insurance has a maximum dollar amount that can be spent on you in any year. This is the opposite of medical insurance, where once you hit a maximum out of pocket costs, everything is covered.  With dental insurance, if you need a couple of expensive procedures, you will likely hit the point where the dental insurance has maxed out.

 

Can you use tax credits for dental insurance on the Marketplace?

In general, no. Dental coverage is an essential benefit for children under the age of 18. If it is not included in their health plan then you can use tax credits (if you have any left over) toward their dental plan.  Adults cannot use tax credits to buy dental insurance.  Marketplace dental information.

Are there other options?

Yes, there are (at least) three other options.

1. Take employer-offered dental insurance. If you are buying health insurance on the Marketplace because your employer health insurance is unaffordable, their dental insurance may still be affordable--and may not have the waiting periods that individual dental insurance has. You can only choose this during employer open enrollment or a special enrollment period.

2. Buy off the Marketplace. Since you are not using tax credits, you should look around. You can work through an insurance broker or directly with companies that offer dental plans like Blue Cross, Delta, Golden, etcetera. You can only do this during Marketplace open enrollment or when you qualify for a special enrollment period.

3. Set money aside each month for dental expenses as if you were paying a dental premium. Call around to find a dentist you like and who is affordable. Dentists' rates vary. Pay out of pocket for cleanings, fillings, etcetera. [You can also use money from a health savings account or flexible spending account to cover dental expenses.] You can choose this any time of year.

Read more about dental care, insurance and coverage here.

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Open Enrollment Tips, Part 2: How Much Will I Pay? Best and Worst Case Scenarios

You know what you might pay for your health insurance premium--a fixed, monthly cost.  But what about the rest?  What will you actually pay for health care next year?  Will you pay just your Monthly Premium or will you pay your full Maximum Out Of Pocket Cost?  $1200, $5200, or something in between? 

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Best Case Scenario

One way to think about health insurance is to imagine the Best Case Scenario. Imagine that you have a year where you are healthy, and nothing goes wrong. 

In this scenario, you pay:

Your Premium: $100/month for a subsidized silver plan

Annual doctor's visit (preventive care, covered 100%): $0

Flu shot (preventive care, covered 100%): $0

Birth control pills (covered 100% under the ACA): $0

TOTAL COSTS FOR THE YEAR: $100/month premium x 12 months=$1200

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Worst Case Scenario

Now imagine that you have a year where everything goes wrong. You start out the year with appendicitis, then you fall and break your arm, you have a cancer scare, Lyme disease, and you are hospitalized for pneumonia. You might be wondering--if you have a year like that--what is it going to cost? What is the Worst Case Scenario--not for your health, but for your budget?

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Actually, it's not that hard to figure this out either--there is a mathematical formula for it. 

Start with the cost of your premium.

We'll use the same premium: $100/month for a subsidized silver plan. 

Your deductible is $2000, but that turns out to be more important (in a worst case scenario) for the pace at which you pay bills, and less important for the actual Worst Case Scenario.

What is important is the line marked Maximum Out Of Pocket Costs. We'll say, in this case the Maximum Out of Pocket number is $4,000. Once you spend that maximum number, you pay nothing more. 

TOTAL COSTS FOR THE YEAR= Total premium cost + Maximum out of pocket amount

In this scenario, you would pay: ($100/month)*12 + $4000 = $1200 + $4000 =$5200

So with this plan, under the best case scenario you would pay $1200 and under the worst case scenario you would play $5200. Try out these formulas on any plan. 

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Just one caveat: In some cases, the maximum out of pocket number applies only to in-network spending; or out-of-network spending may be subject to a higher maximum out of pocket number. Except for emergencies, try to stay in network. 

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Open Enrollment Tips, Part 1: An Educated Consumer Is Our Best Customer

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Some of you--of a certain age--may remember the Sy Syms commercial, with the tagline, "An Educated Consumer is Our Best Customer." Well, what's true for buying clothes is even more true (100 times more important, probably!) for choosing health insurance. 

So here are a few things to know, if you are shopping for health insurance. 

1. If you are very low income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. If you think you are eligible for Medicaid, do the MIBridges Medicaid application. Don't assume the Marketplace will send you there correctly--it is supposed to, but the two systems are not well-calibrated. (We help with those applications, too.)

2. If you had a plan last year, don't let it auto-renew. Spend the hour it requires to assess everything again. Provide revised income estimates, check your dependents, update your address. Most importantly, the plans have changed. In some cases, they have changed A LOT. 

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Make sure you are aware of which doctors or health systems are in-network or out of network for any plan that you choose. These networks can also change between plan years. 

Because costs are calibrated for tax credits based on the second-lowest cost silver plan, when the costs for that plan change (and this year they changed a lot!), the tax credits change a lot too. But if you were eligible for subsidies before, and your income is similar, you will pay the same or less--but you may need or want to change plans.

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3. If your income is a bit higher than Medicaid, but still under 200% of the poverty level ($24,120 for a single person, $49,200 for a family of 4) you will probably find the best deals with the Silver plans. (Probably. You may still want to compare the gold and bronze plans as well.)

4. If your income is between 200% and 400% of the poverty level ($24,120-$48,240 for a single person, $49,200-$98,400 for a family of 4), it is highly likely that you will find the gold and bronze plans more appealing. Gold plans, on average, will cover 80% of your medical costs and Bronze plans, on average, will cover 60% of your medical costs. 

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Explainer: The Trump administration made some last-minute changes removing cost-sharing subsidies, which are only applied to silver plans. Because of this, the cost of silver plans went up more than the cost of gold or bronze plans. But because tax credits are calculated based on silver plans, your tax credit will likely go further on the bronze or gold plans. If you want the details, read this

5. If your income is over 400% of the poverty level ($48,240 for a single person, $98,400 for a family of 4), you will not qualify for tax credits. But you might find better deals off of the Marketplace. Work with an in-person or online insurance broker, and make sure you are choosing from ACA-compliant plans. These should be marked as Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. If they are ACA-compliant, they will have the same essential benefits, but the cost may be less expensive.

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Washtenaw Health Plan staff will answer your questions and help you figure it out.  It's complicated.  Different people in a family may get different coverage. Parents may qualify for the Marketplace, kids may qualify for Medicaid or MIChild.  An older couple might have Medicare, Medicaid and/or Marketplace.  No situation is too complex, no question should go unanswered.  We'll help sort it out.  

Call 734-544-3030 or walk-in to 555 Towner St. Ypsilanti from 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.  

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Don't Be Scared, Healthcare Isn't Spooky! Instead, Get Ready!

If it's Halloween, then Open Enrollment on the Marketplace (healthcare.gov) is just around the corner!  It may also be time for your employer's open enrollment period! 

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Here's What You Need To Get Ready

1. Income information for everyone in your household

For Medicaid and MIChild, you need income information for  the current month/year. If you are applying on the Marketplace, you are trying to project your income and household information for next year (2018).  Income limits for Medicaid and MIChild can help you understand what you are applying for.

2016 Taxes: Your 1040 form (first page), as well as W-2s and  Schedule C or E if you are self-employed. 

Paystubs:  Bring 30 days of the most recent paystubs for anyone who is working.  If you don't have paper copies, make sure you can access your pay information online. 

Self-employment Information: Recent income and expense statement, Schedule C or E. 

Do you have a working teenager in your family?  Read more about whether or not their income counts at  Teens Who Work: Does Their Income Count?

2. Household composition

For the Marketplace, what matters is your tax household. For Medicaid and MIChild, both who is in your tax household and who is living in your house are important. For everyone in your house, you need certain documents. 

Who was in your household this year and who will be in it next year?  (Hint: Is your college senior graduating? Did you just have a baby?)

Social Security Numbers for everyone in the family who has them.

Immigration documents, such as permanent resident green cards, work permits, visas. (People who have DACA status cannot apply on the Marketplace and should contact the WHP for help.)

Home and/or mailing addresses for everyone in the household.

Dates of birth for everyone.

3. Employer coverage

Does your employer offer coverage?  What does it cost?

Your employer can fill out this form to help decide if your employer coverage is affordable and meets minimum coverage standards according to the Affordable Care Act:  Employer Coverage Tool.

In some cases, employer insurance may be affordable for the employee, but not for the rest of the family. Contact the WHP for help in that situation.

Open Enrollment Question: Do I Have To Take My Employer Healthcare Coverage? (Usually, Yes)

4. Log-ins and password

If you had Marketplace insurance, you already have an account.  Find your Marketplace account information sheet or make sure you have the password for your email account. (If you have multiple email accounts, you can usually identify the one with the active healthcare.gov account by searching for emails from healthcare.gov.)

Want Help? We are making appointments now, so call 734-544-3030.

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Six Things I Learned about Healthcare While Working at the WHP

Editors Note: This post was written by a wonderful summer intern, Madeline Higgins, as a reflection on her work over the summer. Madeline is a student in the MPH program at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and we are sure she will go on to do great things!

I was lucky to intern at the Washtenaw Health Plan this past summer, where I got to observe the services that WHP provides and work with a new program involving Community Health Workers. Meanwhile, the federal government was attempting to greatly reduce the Affordable Care Act, which had the potential to negatively impact the health of residents in Washtenaw County. While I learned many facts, protocols, and systems, the items listed stick out most in my memory.

 

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1. There is a significant gap in understanding of the reality of healthcare and policy impact from federal legislators.

I believe this stems from decision makers finding information that enforces their current worldview instead of looking at fact-based data. While watching and reading about the legislative process for healthcare reform, I was struck by the lack of listening and understanding from both sides of the aisle. While everyone utilized individual stories to demonstrate their points, there was little conversation about population-level health outcomes. After reading reports and statistics which utilized a population health framework, it is obvious to me that overall, the Affordable Care Act has positively impacted health in the US.

 

2. You can work minimum wage full time and not qualify for Medicaid (as a single individual household).

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I learned this towards the end of my time with WHP. I hadn’t done the math before, and it was hard for me to imagine living on the minimum wage in the Ann Arbor area in regards to housing costs, let alone health care. To me, this further demonstrates the need for a livable minimum wage.

 

 

3. Pre-existing condition protections help us all.

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At some point in our lives, we are likely to experience some health setback where we utilize the healthcare system. It is advantageous to us all to include people with pre-existing conditions in the insurance pool because one day that could be us!

 

 

4. Everyone has questions about healthcare- and it is important to find places to get good information.

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The Washtenaw Health Plan is a great place to ask for help! No matter your insurance plan, there seem to be terms and deadlines that won’t make a lot of sense until you ask an expert or seek reliable resources. I also wrote a blog post this past summer about reliable resources regarding health care access, and it totally changed the way that I look for information about health.

 

5. People who do direct service work can (and must) also do policy advocacy.

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Washtenaw County is organized and ready for action! I sat in on many meetings where people were putting their heads together to make sure they had the right information to talk to colleagues, legislators, and their clients about how federal policy change (for example, reduction in SNAP benefits) is detrimental to our community. This is vital to both keeping their jobs but also elevating the health status of the Washtenaw County population.

 

6. Above all, if healthcare was treated like a human right, the tone of this conversation would be very different.

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People at the WHP recognize that healthcare is more complicated than having access to insurance. Health is about access to nutritious foods, opportunities to relax, space to exercise, and of course the occasional donut from Dom’s. Working in the county government showed the interconnectedness of the systems that comprise of people’s access to health. I believe if we are more inclusive to people’s needs we can work together to improve the health of Washtenaw County.

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Open Enrollment Question: Do I Have To Take My Employer Healthcare Coverage? (Usually, Yes)

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For many employees, Open Enrollment period for employer insurance comes in the fall, and is a short two or four week period where you have to make important decisions about health care for the coming year. This can be a lot of pressure, and so it turns out that a little preparation can go a long way. If you are a new employee at a job, you may be offered insurance right away, or after a period of 90 or 180 days.

Know your options, because if this were a relationship on Facebook, you might say, "It's Complicated!" What follows is a series of questions that will hopefully help you figure it out.

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If you are going to turn down your employer insurance, you want to make sure you are clear about the alternatives. Although it doesn't matter to Medicaid if you have an offer of employer insurance, it does matter if you were hoping to get subsidies on the Marketplace. Don't turn down your offer of coverage without studying your options!

1. Does your employer coverage meet Minimum Essential Coverage guidelines?

This would mean the the employer coverage covers:

  • Ambulatory patient services(Appointments and procedures in a doctor's office);
  • Emergency services;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Maternity and newborn care;
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment;
  • Prescription drugs;
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices;
  • Laboratory services;
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management and Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

If the answer is yes, continue. If the answer is no, consider Marketplace and Medicaid eligibility and enrollment.

BEWARE: Some employers offer very inexpensive medical plans that do not cover hospitalization or emergency services. These do not meet Minimum Essential Coverage guidelines.

 

2. Does your employer coverage meet Minimum Value standards? 

Minimum value standard is a standard of minimum coverage that applies to job-based health plans. If your employer’s plan meets this standard and is considered “affordable,” you won’t be eligible for a premium tax credit if you buy a Marketplace insurance plan instead.

A health plan meets the minimum value standard if both of these apply:

  • It’s designed to pay at least 60% of the total cost of medical services for a standard population
  • Its benefits include substantial coverage of physician and inpatient hospital services

If you are unsure, ask your employer to fill out the Employer Coverage Tool.  

If the answer is yes, continue. If the answer is no, consider Marketplace and Medicaid eligibility and enrollment. 

NOTE: If the answer is no to EITHER the minimum essential coverage or minimum value standard, and you are income-eligible, you should be eligible for advance premium tax credits.

 

3. Is your family income low enough for some or all of your family to qualify for Medicaid?

Look here for the income eligibility tables for Medicaid. If you (or some members of your family) are income-eligible for Medicaid, you can apply for Medicaid instead of or in addition to your employer coverage. Because the income cutoffs for children are higher than for adults, often children can be enrolled in Medicaid or MIChild while the parents enroll in employer coverage. You can also have both Medicaid and your employer insurance--Medicaid will pay co-pays and deductibles not covered by your employer coverage, and this can be useful if you have a high-deductible plan. 

 

4. What is the cost of your insurance, relative to your income? 

To figure this out, look at the lowest-cost plan your employer is offering that meets the minimum standards (see #1 and #2 above), and the cost for the health coverage for the employee alone. 

Example 1: The cost is $100/month for the employee alone, and the employee makes $1000/month. $100/$1000=10% of income.

Example 2: The cost is $100/month for the employee alone, and the employee makes $2000/month. $100/$2000=5% of income.

Generally, if the cost is more than 8% of family income but less than 9.69% of family income, you are exempt from having to take the insurance, but you are not eligible to get advance premium tax credits on the Marketplace. [You may, however, be eligible for Medicaid!]

If the cost is more than 9.69% of family income, you don't have to take your employer insurance, but you can buy on the Marketplace and qualify for advance premium tax credits.

 

5. What about the rest of the family?  The Family Glitch

The Affordable Care Act looks primarily at affordability for the employee only. Different people in a family can get covered in different ways. 

If the cost of insurance for the employee is affordable, and the cost for the rest of the family is not affordable, you fall into what is called the "family glitch." The rest of the family is probably not going to be eligible for subsidized plans on the Marketplace. At this point, help from someone familiar with insurance options can be a big help. You may very well be able to get an exemption on your taxes from having to pay a fine, but that doesn't help with getting health care. On the other hand, other family members may get covered differently. Possibilities may include: 

Thanks to healthinsurance.org for the image.

Thanks to healthinsurance.org for the image.

Don't forget: in many cases, different people in a family are covered in different ways. For example, each parent may be covered by his/her own employer, and the children may be covered by MIChild.

 

6. What if employer coverage gets offered or dropped in the middle of the year?

Changes in employer coverage in the middle of the year create Special Enrollment Period opportunities. If employer coverage is offered, you should evaluate it. If you have Medicaid and will continue to qualify for Medicaid, you may not want to take it. If you have a Marketplace plan and the employer coverage meets minimum standards, you may need to take the employer coverage because you will no longer be eligible for APTCs. If you take it and have a Marketplace plan, make sure to let the Marketplace know!

If you lose employer coverage during the middle of the year, you may be eligible for Marketplace or Medicaid plans. The Special Enrollment Period on the Marketplace after you lose employer insurance is good for 60 days. Medicaid is open year-round.

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If you have questions, call or walk in to the WHP office.

Washtenaw Health Plan, where We Help PeoplE like you!

Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm

555 Towner, Ypsilanti, MI 48198

 

resources

Employer Coverage Tool:  Use this tool to gather answers about any employer health coverage that you’re eligible for (even if it’s from another person’s job, like a parent or spouse). You’ll need this information to complete your Marketplace application. Complete one tool for each employer that offers health coverage that you’re eligible for.

Healthcare.gov: Apply here for Marketplace insurance. 

MiBridges: Apply here for Medicaid insurance. 

HealthSherpa:  Use this tool to compare health plans. 

 

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2017 Medicare Open Enrollment Runs October 15 through December 7

Medicare is a program for people who are 65 or older and people with disabilities. You can read more about Medicare here. If you have Medicare now, then...

It's time to review your Medicare Plan!  

October 15, 2017 to December 7, 2017 is the annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period. During Open Enrollment you may:

  • Change from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to original Medicare
  • Switch Medicare Advantage plans
  • Join a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
  • Switch Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans

 

review your coverage--especially Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans--every year!

Premiums, co-pays and the drugs covered can change from year-to-year, even within the same plan.  Your current plan should send you an "Annual Notice of Change" before Open Enrollment that outlines any changes for the next year.  Medicare Part D plans are sold and managed by private companies and vary greatly in terms of monthly premiums, annual deductibles, drugs covered and prescription prices.  

Insurers tweak Medicare Advantage Plans every year, and those changes could mean that you can't see your favorite doctor or you might need to pay more. 

So--review, review, review!

MMAP Counselors Are There For You--For Free!

Every state has people who will help you figure out your Medicare options. In Michigan, these people--paid staff, and volunteers--work with the Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program. In Michigan, you can find your local MMAP program here. Nationally, the SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) can help you find assistance locally. 

MMAP Counselors can help explain how Medigap and Medicare Advantage programs work, and can help you sift through your options for Part D plans. They can help you figure out if you can defer taking Medicare because you are still working. They can help you figure out if you qualify for extra help!

Some People Qualify For Extra Help

If your income is low, you may qualify for extra help. For instance, the Medicare Savings Program may help you pay your Medicare premium, or you may qualify for Medicaid and Medicare which together will cover all your health care costs. To qualify for the Medicare Savings Program you must be low-income and not have many assets.  For married couples, your combined income must be less than $1847/month and you must have less than $11,090 in assets (excluding a house and car).  For single people, your income must be less than $1376 and you must have less than $7390 in assets.  

If you think you may qualify for Extra Help, talk to a MMAP (Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program) counselor. 

Just MMAP It!

Washtenaw County is in a MMAP region that includes Livingston, Monroe, Macomb, St. Clair and Oakland counties. There are multiple ways to meet with MMAP counselors and MMAP and the Area Agency on Aging 1B have multiple events scheduled for Open Enrollment.  Call 1-800-803-7174 to schedule an appointment.  Call now because availability is limited!

 

2018 Washtenaw County Events - Medicare beneficiaries can make an appointment to meet one-on-one with a MMAP Counselor and review their 2018 Medicare coverage options.  Call 800-803-7174 to schedule an appointment.  Appointments are required.

Thursday, November 2,  2017  10am - 3pm Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor 2935 Birch Hollow Dr Ann Arbor, MI 48018

Monday, November 13, 2017 10am - 6pm   Washtenaw ISD 1819 S Wagner Rd Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Thursday, December 7, 2017 10am - 6pm  Washtenaw ISD 1819 S Wagner Rd Ann Arbor, MI 48103

 

Events in SE Michigan including Washtenaw, Livingston, Monroe, Macomb, St. Clair and Oakland.  

Washtenaw County Events and Partner sites with in-person appointments available.

Livingston County Events and Partner sites with in-person appointments available.

Monroe County Events and Partner sites with in-person appointments available.

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Mental Health Needs? Health Insurance Has You Covered

Sometimes you may feel blue.  Sometimes the mood lifts and sometimes it just lingers on and on.  You might try talking with a friend, going for a walk. But it seems that no matter what you do, the blues continue.  At these times, you might feel that no one understands or worse, that no one cares.  You may feel that you are all alone.  

If you are feeling hopeless or you are with someone who is feeling suicidal, call 911, go to the Emergency Room or go to a Psychiatric Emergency Room immediately. Additional resources that are available 24/7: nationally, call  1-800-273-TALK (8255), text Hello to 741741, or in Washtenaw County, call 734-544-3050.

Under the current health care system, mental health is part of the essential health benefits that all health insurance must cover.  If you currently have insurance, you have a mental health benefit of at least 20 visits per year.  With this benefit, you can see a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or therapist as long as they are part of your health care network.  

As of October 1, 2017, Michigan Medicaid lifted the 20 visit cap on Mental Health visits.  You are now able to see any provider that accepts Medicaid or a Medicaid Health Plan for as long as needed.  An official notice is here  

Mental Health Affects Physical Health 

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions.  Some people have chronic mental health conditions, but many people may have temporary conditions that are treatable and preventable.  

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Depression is a sad or blue mood that lasts for more than two weeks and affects a person's ability to work, carry out usual daily activities and have meaningful personal relationships. Symptoms of depression that need treatment include at least two of the following; lack of energy and tiredness, unusually sad mood, loss of enjoyment and interest in activities, sleeping difficulties, concentration and decision making problems, feeling worthless or guilty, thinking about death or dying, loss of interest in food or eating too much.  Depression is treatable.

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Anxiety can vary from mild uneasiness to a terrifying panic attack.  Treatment is necessary if a person becomes unable to work, carry out usual daily activities and have meaningful relationships. Symptoms can be:

  • physical - pounding heart, sweating, stomach pain, shaking
  • psychological - mind racing, irritability, sleep disturbances
  • behavioral - situation avoidance, phobic behavior, obsessive or compulsive behavior

Anxiety is treatable.

Suicide is on the rise.  At any time if anyone is feeling hopeless or talking of suicide, call 911.  Washtenaw County officers have special training for mental health emergencies.  Tell the 911 operator that your emergency is mental health related and they will send trained officers.  

Here are some good tips, if someone you are close to is feeling suicidal.

HOW CAN YOU GET HELP?  HERE ARE 4 OPTIONS:

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  1. Make an appointment with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or regular doctor. Your regular doctor can prescribe anti-depressants, talk about lifestyle choices and refer you for further treatment.  Many PCPs now use a depression or mental screening questionnaire that helps determine next steps.
  2. Search for psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists or counselors that accept your insurance.  You may find that information on the insurer's website or by calling them and asking for nearby therapists.  For Medicaid health plans, contact your Medicaid health plan.  The number is on the back of your card or search your provider's website.  
  3. Find a support group.  Some support groups are free. If there is a cost, you may want to check with your insurer to make sure you are seeing someone in your network. 
  4. Find a counselor or community agency.  If you don't have insurance but need attention, there are resources for counseling and help.  Community Mental Health has a crisis team that can be reached by calling 734-544-3050.  

Everyone needs help at some point in their life.  Talk to your doctor and get help. 

If you need help with health insurance, contact the Washtenaw Health Plan.  Call 734-544-3030 or walk-in to our offices at 555 Towner, Ypsilanti, Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm.  

Resources:

Washtenaw Community Mental Health Call Access at 734-544-3050 or 1-800-440-7548 for crisis service, support or information.  Available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.  

Washtenaw ALIVE Resource List from Suicide Prevention Coalition

Depression Toolkit from University of Michigan Depression Center

National NAMI  and Michigan NAMI

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Washtenaw Health Plan Services for Immigrants

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Here at the WHP we provide confidential services to all people regardless of their immigration status.  We assist individuals and families with any health coverage needs, from identifying eligibility to completing applications.  We help people figure out if they are eligible for Medicaid, MOMS, Emergency Medicaid, Washtenaw Health Plan, or the Marketplace (subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act).  WHP even assists individuals whom need help understanding their employer’s insurance options.

To ensure that all individuals and families have access to services and resources at WHP, we have Arabic, French, and Spanish speakers on staff.  In addition, we have access to a language line that provides real-time interpretation services for anyone who prefers to receive information in their native language.  Our language line services assist us in helping families in understanding documents, and gives families the confidence to ask the questions they need answered. The language line can assist with over 240 different languages.

WHP staff (and Public Health staff) have access to interpreter services for Acholi to Zyphe from Language Line Solutions.  

WHP staff (and Public Health staff) have access to interpreter services for Acholi to Zyphe from Language Line Solutions.  

In addition to helping individuals and families identifying what health coverage they are eligible for, WHP can provide families with referrals and resources to address additional needs that go beyond health. We refer families to agencies throughout Washtenaw County. Some of our referrals include: Catholic Social ServicesJewish Family Services and Hope Clinic.

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With the current immigration climate, we are aware that many individuals and families need the necessary resources to feel safe in their community. WHP provides families with Know Your Rights information, including updated lists of attorneys helping community members with immigration questions and community organizations that advocate for immigrants such as the Washtenaw County ID Project and Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR).  WHP can now notarize Power of Attorney forms and translate foreign driver’s licenses.

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In May 2017, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approved funding and resolutions to aid immigrants regardless of citizenship or immigration status. One of the resolutions includes Washtenaw County being a welcoming community, respecting and cooperating with all families.  Another resolution specifies that Washtenaw County policy is to only ask about immigration services for specific purposes, allowing people to feel safe when interacting with the county government. Lastly, having a policy in place to aid in restricting deportation and provide more appropriate immigration sanctions for immigrants and non-citizens who have been convicted of crimes.  As Washtenaw County employees, we support these resolutions everyday in our work. 

The Washtenaw Health Plan is dedicated to helping people access and receive healthcare regardless of their immigration status.  All WHP staff recently attended the Welcome Michigan Statewide Convening to discuss supporting and welcoming immigrants across Michigan. 

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-T. South Peterson

Have questions about healthcare?  Call 734-544-3030 or walk-in to our office Monday - Friday from 9am-4pm.  Post a question in the comments section below and we will answer you. 

Healthcare Counts blog posts in Español / Spanish are here.

Information about immigration and healthcare from Healthcare Counts is here.

Washtenaw County Immigration Policy May 2017

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

National Immigration Law Center

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