More than 1,000 uninsured community members received help enrolling in health coverage through Washington’s online enrollment center at the Health Benefit Exchange Office in North Bend. Snoqualmie Valley Hospital District provided free in-person assistance during the open enrollment period from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
Teresa McClain, Certified Assister/Navigator for Washington Health Benefit Exchange and Clinic Admin. for SVH, helped community members navigate the Washington Healthplanfinder website and enroll in coverage every Monday through Thursday.
“The people I worked with were so grateful for the service we provided,” McClain said. “One couple I assisted came in to thank me and bring in a bouquet of flowers. I had discovered that the system was not calculating their tax credit correctly. They said what I corrected saved them over $900 a month.”
Even though the open enrollment period has ended, Valley residents are still coming into the HBE Office for help enrolling in health coverage. The office is open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help people who qualify for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program apply for coverage. They are eligible to sign up year-round. Individuals with qualifying circumstances may also be eligible to apply at any time.
McClain not only provides assistance at the HBE office, but she has also worked with the indigent population throughout the Valley, including at the Valley Renewal Shelter, Raging River Recovery, clients from DSHS East King County CSO and many other individuals referred by mental health providers and community service organizations.
Other support McClain provides is to educate people about local services offered at the hospital district, such as primary care, specialty services and emergency services. She also helps SVHD patients with financial aid paperwork and works with them to find a dentist or vision provider that accepts Washington Apple Health.
She also helps those who do not qualify for insurance sign up for the Affordable Access program so they may receive primary health care services at the Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic for a low monthly premium.
“It’s been such a rewarding experience getting to know so many members of our community and helping them obtain health coverage that some have never had access to,” McClain said. “The smiles on people’s faces when they realized they will be able to see a doctor or dentist for the first time in years was priceless. At times it could be a bit hectic, but at the end of each day, I felt incredibly fulfilled.”
The next open enrollment period is November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. SVHD plans to offer the same assistance to the community during this time.
HBE office is located at 213 Bendigo Blvd. N, in North Bend.