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Learn More About Health Insurance Options

May 29, 2012

Free Seminar May Help You Find the Coverage You Need

Because of the poor economy and company lay-offs, there are more uninsured Americans than ever before. In California, nearly one in five is uninsured.

"If you are without health insurance, you are not alone, we talk to many local residents that have lost health insurance from an employer or just can not afford to pay the high premiums" observes Kristi Caracappa, Health Insurance Information Service Coordinator at Washington Hospital.

The 2010 Community Health Needs Assessment estimates 12 percent of residents in Alameda County have no health insurance. The report also concludes that people who are uninsured are far more likely to delay or not seek medical care than those who have insurance.

"We see these problems every day in our office," comments Caracappa, who works at the Washington Hospital Health Insurance Information Service, a free, confidential and unbiased service that can provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health insurance or find low cost health care services to stay healthy.

On Wednesday, June 6, Caracappa will present a free seminar, "Health Insurance Options: What You Need to Know." Sponsored by Washington Hospital, the class will be held in Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. To reserve your spot, go online to www.whhs.com and look under Upcoming Seminars, or call (800) 963-7070.

"We will talk about different options for health insurance and what you can do if you are without it," says Caracappa. "The goal of our service at Washington Hospital is to help people get the health insurance or services they need, whether it be through low cost or free community programs or through government-sponsored programs. Our service is free and available to everyone, no matter who you are or where you live."

According to Caracappa, under federal health reform young adults can now be covered by their parents' insurance plan until they are 26. Children under age 18 who don't have coverage may also qualify under the state's Healthy Families program. For those who have been without insurance due to pre-existing conditions there is a PCIP program offered through the State of California. Caracappa is a Healthy Families certified application assistant, so she can assist people in filling out the paperwork.

When Health Insurance Coverage is Lost

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. When someone goes on COBRA as an extension of previously available health insurance coverage, they may not realize how expensive it is.

Caracappa recommends that you take COBRA coverage if your family can afford it. If not, she will offer suggestions on what you can do to keep your family healthy until you can obtain health insurance. During the seminar, Caracappa will also talk about insurance options for people who have exhausted their COBRA coverage, as well as those who have pre-existing conditions.

Advice to Fit Your Needs

People who attend the seminar on June 6 will have an opportunity to ask questions about their own health insurance needs, or they can make a free appointment with Washington Hospital's Health Insurance Information Service by calling (800) 770-9447, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Health Insurance Information Service Office is located in the Washington Community Health Resource Library in the Washington West building on Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

Learn More

If you have questions about the Washington Hospital Health Insurance Information Service or would like to learn more about health insurance coverage options, visit www.whhs.com/health-insurance or call (800) 770-9447.