Special “watch/learn/do-it” insurance workshop – DIY or get personal help

Why do some people still not have health insurance, a year after the new system (Washington Healthplanfinder) launched?

Our enrollment experts learned that a lot of people either get stuck on some small detail in the process – or they fear getting stuck, so they don’t even want to try the website. (Others simply don’t have internet access at home.)

That’s why Public Health created a special “Watch/Learn/Do-it” enrollment event, this Saturday, December 6, at Seattle’s downtown library. We’re offering a free one-hour workshop-style presentation, where anyone can bring their own laptop or tablet and sign-up for insurance as we go step by step through the process.

Mayor Mike McGinn welcomes 200 artists to workshop on health insurance, Oct. 14, 2013
Mayor Mike McGinn welcomes 200 artists to workshop on health insurance, Oct. 14, 2013
  • We’ll have technical experts in the room who are trained in how to use Washington Healthplanfinder. They’ll help anyone who gets stuck.
  • We’ve invited the insurance companies to have booths nearby, so they can provide details about their insurance plans.
  • No laptop or prefer one-on-one assistance? Nearby, we’ll have enrollment experts (called Navigators) available, including bilingual experts Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese.

The workshop idea grew out of a presentation by Washington Health Foundation and Public Health staff last year to a group of 200 artists and musicians, organized by Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. That event showed a huge demand for a simple lesson on how to navigate the online enrollment system.

Geoff Garza is an artist who was uninsured for six years, and suffered through a lot of “weekend warrior injuries.”  He attended last fall’s workshop, where he started his application, before finishing it at home. “I have really dreaded something serious happening,” he said, before enrolling last fall. “I don’t make a lot of money, and having to pay for that would devastate me.”

Some people might still need one-to-one help, if they run into technical problems, so plenty of experts will be on hand to help with that, too.

Several members of our Access and Outreach team have qualified as “enhanced” experts from the state agency that operates Washington Healthplanfinder.  That means they are able to clear most error codes. They operate a help-line not only for residents — they also help the helpers, the staff at other local agencies who need advice on how to help a client.

Daphne Pie, the manager of that team, will lead this weekend’s free workshop presentation at the library.

Enrollment events show a huge demand for simple lessons on how to navigate the online enrollment system. Since more than a quarter of workers in Seattle earn less than $15 an hour, a quick lesson could be a significant step to better health.  Many of them work part-time and don’t get health insurance.

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I'm part of the communications team at Public Health - Seattle & King County and work closely with all of the programs in the Community Health Services Division.