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Last Two Weeks: Walk-In and Evening Hours! Spread the Word! Tell Your Friends!

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Open Enrollment ends December 15th. Don't miss this window of opportunity!

We have walk-in hours, Mon.-Fri. from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti, MI. You can also call for information or an appointment at 734-544-3030. 

EXTRA!!! SPECIAL EVENING HOURS!!! 12/13 until 8pm!

The WHP office will be open on Wednesday, December 13th until 8 p.m.!!!!

Map to WHP office or call (734)544-3030

HELP US!

Help your friends, clients and community! 

Download and distribute the flyer below.

Friends let friends know:

Dec. 15th is the deadline to sign up for 2018 healthcare on the Marketplace (healthcare.gov).

Here is the link to the poster.

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Enroll Anytime: Domestic Violence and Special Enrollment Periods

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Life changes happen, and they will qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. There are some Special Enrollment Periods that are less typical, and the details are important! 

Survivors of domestic violence are eligible for enrollment in the Marketplace when they leave their batterer, regardless of the time of year. This special enrollment period is available to both men and women, and goes by the "honor system," meaning that no proof (like medical report or court documentation) has to be submitted. It is important that the individual uses the specific term survivor of domestic violence.

Not only are victims of domestic violence eligible for special enrollment periods, but they are also allowed to "break" a big rule that applies to most others. Normally, if you are married you must file joint taxes with your spouse to receive tax credits. Domestic violence survivors, however, are able to get tax credits even if they are filing taxes separately while still married. 

The exception allows people in these situations to still get help with health coverage without compromising their safety. In order to push the application through, the individual must mark on their application that they are not married.

Chart developed by the National Health Law Program and Community Catalyst

Chart developed by the National Health Law Program and Community Catalyst

If you are in a domestic violence situation, help is available. In Washtenaw County call (734) 995-5444 or visit safehousecenter.org. Anywhere else, call (800) 799-7233 (799-SAFE). 

Note also: For safety reasons, survivors of domestic violence may choose to use two addresses: a safe mailing address and a home address.  The home location should be where the applicant is living in order to access the correct health plans.

Have any tips or tricks to share about the Marketplace? Comment below so we can blog about them!

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WHP Profile: Meredith Buhalis

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Meredith Buhalis began working at the WHP just weeks before the April 1st, 2014 start of the Healthy Michigan Plan. She hit the ground running, doing her first application on her own on opening day! Since then, Meredith has been an asset to the WHP, doing a very high volume of enrollments.  As part of the WHP team, Meredith works to help a diverse group of clients navigate the complexities of the current health care system.

Although getting health care coverage is the main focus of the WHP, educating people about their options and supporting clients to become their own advocates is her passion.  A client wrote this about Meredith.

 "She is amazing and she will help you! She has put the power back into my hands. These programs are funded and if you are eligible they should NOT ever be out of your reach. Call Meredith. Get the help you need to gain the coverage you deserve."
Check out the website and subscribe to our blog!

Check out the website and subscribe to our blog!

During the Coverage Counts CMS grant, Meredith worked out of the Livingston County Department of Public Health and has helped many community members in both Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Now, Meredith is full-time at the Washtenaw Health Plan offices in Ypsilanti.

Meredith first studied education and human development at Antioch College where she fully absorbed the founder's pleas to graduates, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." After college and brief careers in house painting and restaurants, Meredith attended the School of Information at the University of Michigan. As part of hi-ce, she taught school librarians to use the Internet and helped organize the World Wide Web, pre-google.  She worked with nonprofits, technology and social workers before moving on to the wonderful world of school libraries.  Now she puts her organizational, creative, and people skills to good use at the Washtenaw Health Plan.  

Times change. Now, Meredith and family are covered by employer insurance!

Times change. Now, Meredith and family are covered by employer insurance!

For instance, Meredith designed the healthcarecounts.org website. Recently, our website and blog has been commended for its amazing marketing team. And that team is primarily Meredith!

Meredith lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, the singer/songwriter Chris Buhalis, daughter and dog. 

--Haley Haddad and Ruth Kraut

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Three Steps Toward Qualifying for a Health Care Tax Exemption

In 2015, maybe you...thought you had health care, but you didn't

...you missed open enrollment on the Marketplace

...you lost your job and didn't realize you could apply for Medicaid or the Marketplace

...you thought health care would be too expensive. 

Now, you're doing your taxes, and you realize that you should have had health coverage, and since you didn't, you might need to pay a penalty! The penalty for 2015 could be as much as 2% of your income.

1. Before you panic, take a look at your whole family, and each person individually, to see if all or part of your family qualifies for a tax exemption. 

Look at each person in your family separately to figure out who might qualify for an exemption.

Look at each person in your family separately to figure out who might qualify for an exemption.

If anyone does qualify for an exemption, you will need to fill out IRS form 8965. 

2. The IRS has some excellent resources.

Don't forget--if you are low-income you can do your taxes with free software, free filing, and no messy handwriting!   

Don't forget--if you are low-income you can do your taxes with free software, free filing, and no messy handwriting!

 

If you got a Marketplace exemption, you will get a letter with an Exemption Certificate Number. [Can't find your letter? Log into your account on healthcare.gov and download it again.] If you have an IRS exemption, you just fill it in on Form 8965. 

Common reasons for exemptions:

  • The insurance you were offered was unaffordable
  • You only missed coverage for a couple of months
  • You are a member of a federally-recognized Indian tribe.

Less common reasons for exemptions:

  • Someone in your house was out of the country for several months
  • Someone in your household is not documented
  • You had a special hardship, such as an eviction.

3. File your taxes! You can get free help at these locations.

And while you are doing your taxes, think about the implications for next year. If during the next year, you get married...divorced...get a new job...lose a job...have a baby...move...graduate from college...it would be prudent to get a health care check-up! That would be a good time to visit the Washtenaw Health Plan or get some other health insurance help!

 

 

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Health Insurance Scams - How to Spot Them and What to DO

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Now that everyone is required to have health insurance or pay a penalty, scammers and evil-doers are out there trying to take your money.  Below you will find trusted sources for information and tips on how to tell the real deal from the scammers.  

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If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

If someone calls you and tells you about a health insurance plan that covers everything and will only cost you $35 dollars/month, be suspicious.  First ask them for the health insurance company name and their web address.  If they won't tell you either of those, it is a scam. If someone won't give you a call back number, they probably are not from a reputable company.  

If someone starts asking you lots of questions about your health (do you have asthma, cancer, high blood pressure), it is either a scam or a short-term plan. Year-round plans during open enrollment or special enrollment periods can only ask you your age, your address, and whether or not you are a smoker. 

Healthcare.gov is the Real Deal. 

The website to visit is

HTTP://WWW.HEALTHCARE.GOV/  

NOT healthcare.com.  

If you scroll to the bottom of the webpage at healthcare.COM printed in tiny letters is the following statement:  

HealthCare.com is a PRIVATELY OWNED website that is NOT owned or operated by any state or federal government agency.

Phone Call Scams

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The Marketplace (healthcare.gov) may call you if they were unable to answer your call and you left your phone number. They may also call to remind you that it is time to enroll, but the reminder calls are recordings.  If a person calls you and you are not sure who they are, ask for a callback number.  If the person is hesitant to provide a number, they are a scam. The Marketplace phone number is 1-800-318-2596 and you can call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

All Marketplace representatives have access to your account after you identify yourself. Marketplace representatives never ask you for financial information, such as bank names and account numbers. They will never ask you to pay for insurance over the phone.

What Does A Scammer Sound Like?

This a recording of a scammer who calls and leaves a voicemail.  This same voicemail was left for hundreds of people.   Do not call this person back, they are not from Healthcare.gov and can not sign you up for real health care.  

Protect Yourself

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has a list of fake health plans and health care scams with 10 warning signs. To protect yourself, they suggest:

  • Slow down: Avoid signing up if you feel pressured to buy
  • Ask to read the policy
  • Call the insurance company to verify the program offered is a real plan and not just a medical discount card.

Read more here.

What to do if you are believe you are the victim of a health insurance scam

If you believe you are the victim of a health insurance scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Fill in this form online: http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

You can report Medicaid fraud or abuse by calling 855-MI-FRAUD (643-7283) or by filing an online complaint

To contact your local Medicaid office or find out about your Medicaid benefits, contact your local DHHS office or call the Medicaid Helpline at 1-800-642-3195. 

 

resources about healthcare scams:

Protect yourself from Marketplace fraud  https://www.healthcare.gov/how-can-i-protect-myself-from-fraud-in-the-health-insurance-marketplace/

Read about recent scams or sign up for Scam Alerts from the FTC:  http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Stop Medicare Fraud http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov/

 

-M. Buhalis

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WHP Profile: Jean Amador

It's Friday! Learn about a WHP staff member.

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I Need a Ride to the Doctor - Your Medicaid Transportation Benefit

Free rides to the doctor? Okay!

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Confused by Medicare? There's Help!

The Affordable Care Act has changed a lot about health care in the last several years, but one program that has seen little change is Medicare. While the program has generally remained the same, many people still have a lot of questions about it. Here are the basics:

  • Most people who have Medicare are seniors, 65 years and over, or disabled.
  • Medicare typically covers 80% of bills, while the individual is responsible for the other 20%.
  • You can have other insurance to supplement your Medicare, including Medicaid if you are income eligible.
  • There are several Parts to Medicare:
    • Part A Hospital Insurance, which helps cover inpatient hospital visits, nursing facility care, hospice care etc.
    • Part B Medical Insurance, which helps cover doctor services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, preventative care etc.
    • Part C Medicare Advantage, supplemental insurance plans to help cover the 20% of bills that the individual is responsible for.
    • Part D Prescription Coverage, helps pay for prescriptions.
  • Medicare Part B has a premium amount that may be taken directly out of a social security check.
  • There are Medicaid programs to help pay for the Part B premium.

These tips are barely scratching the surface of all there is to know about your Medicare. We are lucky to have a great program to help individuals navigate their own coverage, Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP). There are counselors throughout the Michigan helping Medicare beneficiaries and their families figure it all out.

For an appointment with a MMAP counselor in your area, call 800-803-7174.

--Haley Haddad

2015 income limits for the Medicaid programs to supplement Medicare

2015 income limits for the Medicaid programs to supplement Medicare

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Stamp Out Hunger Saturday May 9, 2015

There's a National Food Drive on Saturday May 9, 2015!

What it is: It’s the pretty much the easiest way to donate food: Just put some nonperishable food  in a bag by your mailbox before your letter carrier arrives on Saturday, May 9, and it’ll  go to your local food bank (That’s Food Gatherers, if you’re in Washtenaw County, and Gleaners, if you're in Livingston County)!

You can use any bags you have handy, and you'll get the great feeling that you’re fighting hunger!

What they take: The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive will take donations of nonperishable foods in non-breakable containers (no glass jars, please). For instance: canned meats and fish, canned fruit, canned vegetables & beans, baby food and formula, Ensure or other liquid nutritional supplements, peanut butter, canned or boxed stews and soups, dry milk, cereal bars, boxed or canned juices, boxed instant food, boxed or bagged pasta, rice & dried beans, baking mixes… or use your imagination and donate the foods that you want to give to people in your community that suffer from food insecurity. 

What it is: it’s the nation’s largest single day food-drive, and it’s brought in way more than a BILLION pounds of food in the last 20 years. Led by the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL/CIO), with help from other postal employees, rural letter carriers and additional volunteers, all 50 states plus DC, Puerto Rico, Guam & the Virgin Islands- more than 10,000 cities- all participate in this giant food drive on the second Saturday of every May, thoughtfully scheduled to occur in the spring because food banks are between the holiday season and the growing season, and suffer most from a depletion of stores right about now.

What it does: Currently, this amazing food drive brings in around 70 million pounds of food in a single day- that’s a phenomenal result! What does it mean to us at Food Gatherers? Last year, it meant 129,000 lbs of food! Our sincere thanks to our nation’s letter carriers for this terrific event, and for helping to fight hunger where  live!

Thanks to the letter carriers!

This post is being re-blogged from our friends at Food Gatherers, Washtenaw County's food rescue program. But remember, letter carriers across the country will be collecting food on Saturday! So it doesn't matter where you live, you can participate!

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