Don’t Wait! Shorter Healthcare Insurance Enrollment in 2017

Are you wondering about getting or renewing your healthcare insurance? We know there’s a lot of confusion about healthcare insurance, and we’re ready to assist with the facts.

  • FACT: The 2018 Open Enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2017. This is a shorter enrollment period than previous years, so please act quickly!
  • FACT: The health insurance marketplace is still offering insurance plans with cost-sharing reductions and eligibility for Advance Premium Tax Credits. Plans are available for 2018 from multiple insurers.
  • FACT: The Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to make plans available to lower-income and underserved populations, is still the law of the land. You can apply for health insurance coverage at healthcare.gov or visit the SHS Outreach department where our trained navigators and certified application counselors can help you find a plan that suits your needs.
  • FACT: More than 99,000 people in the Kansas City metropolitan area received health coverage through the federal marketplace in 2016-17 enrollment. Many more remain without coverage.
  • FACT: SHS can help you determine your eligibility for financial assistance in the program, shop for the best deal and sign up for health insurance. Call 816-599-5590 to schedule an appointment with our counselors at any of our locations: Central, South, Independence, Hickman Mills, Belton, Northland, Wyandotte and West.

At your appointment, you’ll meet with a counselor who can help you check your coverage status, enroll in a plan or make changes in your coverage for the coming year.

Our counselors also assist with the application process for financial assistance from SHS, which is based on projected income and family size. Please bring your social security number, an income statement, like a paycheck or unemployment benefit, plus a photo ID and birth dates for everyone who’ll need coverage.

In the meeting, you should be prepared to talk about what’s important to you – specific health concerns, medications you’re currently taking, which physicians you want to see, etc. We’ll help you review plans, figure out what you can afford and help you sign up.

Please call us at 816-599-5590 to learn the facts. We’re here to answer your questions.

Resources:

Our Outreach Pantry Needs Your Help. Just a Few Clicks Go a Long Way!

Teresa Cooley-Bennett, Supervisor with SHS Outreach Services, shows the SHS pantry – with room for more supplies for homeless individuals. Your donations are appreciated.

Our Outreach Pantry could use your help!

We regularly provide homeless individuals with foods, toiletries, clothing and miscellaneous items for their health and cleanliness.

Our pantry is running a bit low, and we hope you will consider donating to replenish our supplies. There are two ways you can help:

  1. Click on any of the links below to place an order with Amazon. You can specify to ship your donation directly to us!
  2. Deliver your donations to SHS Central.

Shipping Address: Swope Health Services Central, Attn: Brenda Neal in Building C, 3801 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64130.

Food items:

Toiletries – Travel size preferred

SHS Pantry (1)

Clothing – New products only

Miscellaneous

Thank you for your help! Your kindness goes a long way!

Join the SHS Outreach and Enrollment Team at These Upcoming Community Events!

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The SHS Outreach & Enrollment team is preparing a variety of materials for community outreach events, including brochures, calendars and giveaway items. Look for the team in these bright T-shirts at KC PrideFest.

Consider yourself invited to a series of community events where you can meet up with the SHS Outreach and Enrollment team.

Dr. Karimah Baptiste, SHS Manager of Outreach & Enrollment, and her team of Certified Application Counselors, typically focus on helping people enroll in the federal insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA or Obamacare).

“People may not realize that ACA is still the law of the land, and we can still help with Special Enrollments for certain circumstances, like having a new baby or losing your job and coverage,” she said. “We’re also out in the community to spread the word about all of our healthcare services.”

Here are some of the places you’ll find the SHS team:

  • Resiliency Rally: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 13 at Arrowhead Stadium. This is a free rally to showcase resiliency resources and promote resiliency skills. The family-friendly event offers free food, and transportation is available from Don Boscoe Community Center, Greg Klice Community Center and Southeast Community Center, starting at 9:30 a.m. and every half-hour until 1:30 p.m. The last return shuttle from Arrowhead leaves at 2:30 p.m. The rally features Cookie Monster, from Sesame Street. The first 50 people to attend will get a Sesame Street plush toy and the first 100 will get a free T-shirt.
  • 4th Annual Family 101 5K and Block Party, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Satruday, May 20 at the New Bethel Church, 645 Walker Ave., Kansas City, Kan. This day-long event kicks off with a 5K Color run and walk, followed by a free HealthFair starting at 9 a.m. and the Block Party at 10 a.m. The free Block Party features music, dancing, food trucks, carnival games, basketball, a soccer clinic and bicycle give-away. The first 200 adults to register to run, bike or walk get a $5 food voucher.
  • KC PrideFest, June 2,3 and 4, at Berkeley Riverfront Park. SHS is proud to be a sponsor of the event and will offer giveaways and informational handouts, plus a photo booth perfect for taking and sharing selfies. The event features DJs, headline musical performers, a kid’s zone, LGBTQIA Youth Zone, marketplace and food fair. Tickets are available in advance from the Kansas City Diversity Coalition for $7.50/day (advance) or $10/day during the event. Kids 12 and under get in free.

From July to September, the SHS Outreach will attend Back-to-School Fairs at these school districts: Kansas City, Mo.; Kansas City, Kan.; Center; Hickman Mills; North Kansas City; Independence; and Grandview.

And beyond that, the SHS Outreach team offers free presentations to civic groups, churches and community centers on How to Use Insurance. These programs explain how insurance works and give participants an understanding of terms like co-pay, deductible, co-insurance, in-network, PPO and HMO, among others.

At every event, the SHS Outreach team helps with questions on insurance eligibility, Special Enrollment, Medicaid enrollment and disability benefits. The team provides information about the wide range of SHS services, including adult healthcare, pediatrics, behavioral health for children and adults, optometry and dentistry.

If you’d like more information about SHS Outreach services or would like to schedule a program, please call 816-599-5590.

Can I Use Special Enrollment?

You can enroll or change plans under the federal insurance Marketplace if you have certain life changes, or qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Here is a list of the qualifying life events:

  • A change in family, such as marriage, divorce, childbirth
  • Moved out of your coverage area
  • Lost your coverage
  • Graduated from college
  • Become a lawful citizen
  • Been released from prison

Typically, there is a 60-day window for enrolling from the date the event occurs.

Do you have questions about the Affordable Care Act or getting affordable health insurance? In addition to the resources at Healthcare.gov, you can contact SHS Outreach & Enrollment for an appointment at 816-599-5590.

 

How SHS Managed Care Is Working for You

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Lindsey Carillo

The phones in Lindsey Carrillo’s offices are getting a workout these days.

Lindsey Carrillo, Manager of SHS Managed Care, and her team are working their way through a list of more than 14,000 area residents who are assigned to Swope Health Services for medical care under Medicaid.

Some are patients who previously visited SHS, some might need ongoing care for chronic health issues. Others have never visited but could, based on their insurance coverage.

“I want to invite patients to come here for their primary care services and encourage them to come in before they are sick,” Lindsey said. “It’s important to build a relationship with your medical team. Oftentimes when medical issues are caught early, providers are able to treat them, decreasing the chances of a serious condition.”

Jo Brown and Veda Green are two full-time care navigators focused on extending those personal invitations. Since September 2016, they’ve made more than 20,000 phone calls and sent 6,000 letters and postcards.

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Jo Brown

The outreach is working. Lindsey notes the team has brought in 445 Medicaid managed care patients who had not been seen in 2016. The group also has scheduled more than 1,460 appointments for various other reasons.

Each call is a little different, depending on each caller’s needs.

The care navigators ask patients why they haven’t been in, and they hear a variety of reasons: no transportation, no time, location isn’t convenient.

They work through the issues, offering access to transportation services, assisting with scheduling, finding an SHS location that’s closer.

One woman had been hospitalized 46 times in the past two years. She didn’t realize she could’ve been coming to SHS to see a primary care provider regularly.

Now, with ongoing care of her chronic issues, her chances of avoiding emergency room services or hospitalization are improved.

Another time, Jo called to remind a patient of an appointment. The man had been alone and was distressed by a death in the family. He needed help, and Jo’s call brought him in for a variety of services.

“He’d never had anyone call to check on him,” she reported. “I was glad we did.”

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Veda Green

Not all the phone calls reach the intended patients, Lindsey added. Another time, Veda called and got a wrong number – but the person who answered the call was interested and needed healthcare services. Veda helped her get an appointment, too.

The calls often include facts about how to prepare for a visit, explaining what to bring and describing the examination and labs process.

The team helps schedule appointments and even makes reminder calls, which helps cut down on missed appointments and keeps patients eligible for advance scheduling.

“Providing quality care is important to us,” Lindsey said, “and part of that is getting patients in for their follow-up appointments.”

The managed care team works closely with area insurance programs, including Aetna Better Health, HomeState, UnitedHealthcare and Missouri Care.

All insurance companies prefer keeping patients healthy with regular visits to a primary care provider. The ultimate goal is to reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits while making sure patients are receiving quality ongoing care.

So, if you happen to get a call from SHS, please listen. It might just be Jo or Veda or Lindsey, calling with a personal invitation for YOU to come in to take care of your health.

Consider this your invitation! Call 816-599-5840 to schedule an appointment and develop a healthy relationship with SHS.

Sign Up for Health Insurance By January 31st – We Can Help!

maninbrownlaptopSwope Health Services will offer extended hours to help you sign up for health insurance during the ACA Marketplace Open Enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31.

From Jan. 25 to Jan. 31, a member of the SHS Outreach and Enrollment team will be available until 7:30 p.m. on weeknights by appointment only. To make an appointment, call SHS at 816-599-5590.

SHS has Certified Application Counselors (CACs) who can provide information to help you select an insurance plan that meets your needs. The counselors also help you apply for financial assistance, which is based on your projected income and family size.

In this region, approximately 86 percent of people who got coverage in the health insurance marketplace (HealthCare.gov) qualified for financial assistance to help lower the cost of their health insurance plan.

More than 11.5 million people have already selected a plan for coverage in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which administers the program.

“We know it might be difficult for some to make it to SHS Central during regular business hours,” said Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, Manager of SHS Outreach and Enrollment. “So, starting Wednesday, Jan. 25, we’ll have extended hours. Make your appointments now!”

SHS Certified Counselors

The SHS Certified Application Counselors are ready to help with your health care insurance enrollment. From left, Janelle Strozier, Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, and Angela Rogers.

When you schedule an appointment, you should plan on spending about an hour with an application counselor. You’ll need to bring your social security number, an income statement, like a paycheck or unemployment benefit, plus I.D.s and dates of birth for everyone who’ll be covered.

In the meeting, your Certified Application Counselor will talk with you about what’s important to you – specific health concerns, medications you’re currently taking, which physicians you want to see–and help you figure out what you can afford before showing you how to sign up for a plan that best fits your needs.

Resources:

We live with the uncertainty of many things, but Marketplace healthcare insurance can provide support. Call today to schedule an appointment to learn how you can get coverage – 816-599-5590.

There’s a New Robot in the SHS Pharmacy!

thumb (1)You probably never knew there was a robot at Swope Health Services.

It doesn’t look like C3PO or the droids of Hollywood movies, but it’s just as useful. Our robot works in the pharmacy and handles the fulfillment of nearly 200 of the most commonly prescribed drugs.

That’s just one of the patient-focused services you’ll find at the SHS Pharmacy, notes Mike Hattaway, Chief Pharmacist.

The robot is one piece of an upgraded pharmacy management system, newly installed at SHS. The new system provides for an improved workflow, automated functions and better inventory control, Mike said.

“It helps us operate more efficiently,” he said, “and it helps with patient satisfaction.”

For example, the system performs a daily inventory and automatically orders replacement pharmaceuticals to keep the pharmacy always stocked. This means there’s much less chance that patients are inconvenienced by an out-of-stock drug.

The full-service pharmacy also sends text messages to patients who sign up for automatic refills. You don’t have to call for a refill. Instead, you’ll get a text telling you when it’s ready for pickup.

In addition to these technology-based services, the pharmacy team offers lots of personal assistance to patients, helping with low-cost options for medications and answering questions about how medications affect you.

SHS participates in programs to assist patients in getting the medications they need, Mike said. SHS provides prescriptions at reduced rates under the federal 340B Drug Discount Program.

thumb“The cost of some medications can drop from hundreds of dollars to pennies,” he said. “It makes a lot of products more affordable.”

The pharmacy team also helps patients sign up for pharmaceutical assistance programs, for free or reduced-fee medications for chronic issues.

Mike and his team want to make sure your medications are right for you. He always reminds patients to bring medications when visiting a provider. Having the bottles, a list or even a cellphone picture of your medications can help providers make sure you’re taking the right medications.

“We ask every patient if they have questions about their medications,” he said. “We always encourage patients to ask their provider or a pharmacist about their medications.”

He continues: “A lot of the time, people don’t know why they are taking a medication or what it’s for. If you know what it’s prescribed for and why it’s important to you, you’ll be more apt to stay compliant with the therapy.”

Do you have questions about your medications? Visit the SHS pharmacy or talk with your provider. You can reach us at 816-923-5800 for an appointment.

Straight Talk About Women’s Health Issues

andrea allenAndrea Allen spends every working day talking with women at Swope Health Services’ OB/GYN clinic.

Women, so often responsible for the health and wellbeing of others, can sometimes pay less attention to their own needs.

Andrea, SHS Certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, likes to remind women to listen to the feedback from their own bodies, especially as they undergo natural life changes and respond to environmental situations.

Here are some of the top questions and challenges she addresses regularly with women:

Why do I need a check-up or a well-woman exam?
If you’re in good shape, let’s celebrate that and document your vital signs as a baseline. We perform only the screenings that make sense for you, at whatever age and stage of life you are in. If you’re not feeling good, let’s take care of that.

I don’t want to think about breast cancer.
We know that people get really scared and worked up about breast screenings. But you’re missing out if you’re not getting a regular exam. The screenings, over time, give a good view of changes for comparison. That’s important, especially if there’s any family history with breast cancer. If you come every year, you’ll get just what you need.

What is family planning?
This just means coming to the clinic to discuss if you want to have a baby. If you don’t want a pregnancy right now, we can discuss birth control options. If you do want a pregnancy, we can help you get ready by educating you on important steps to take such as stopping smoking and drinking, eating fruits and vegetables, and starting on a prenatal vitamin, for example.

motherI’m having a baby.
Great! We’re with you throughout the journey. We want you to keep all of your appointments to take care of your health and the health of your baby. Please take your prenatal vitamin every day as this helps you and baby.

And by the way, that ultrasound scan at 18 to 22 weeks into your pregnancy? The main reason we need it is to look at all of the baby’s parts (brain, heart, spine, bowel, etc.), to make sure your baby is growing correctly. During that ultrasound you might get to find out the sex of the baby — that’s a bonus.

I’m having trouble with a relationship.
We routinely ask everyone: Are you living in a safe place, with safe people? We start with the recognition that abuse, of any kind, is never acceptable. We will help women find alternate shelter, protection from an abuser, whatever assistance is needed. We are here to help.

I want to be good to myself.
That’s what we want, too. We’ll encourage you to take care of yourself and take time for yourself. And we can help with questions about food, drinking, exercise, stress, sleep and other ways to take care of yourself. We’ll also tell you about stuff you don’t have to worry about. For example: All those vaginal hygiene products? You don’t need them. I like to describe the vagina as a self-cleaning oven! Washing outside with unscented bar soap is all you need; you really don’t want to kill the good bacteria inside your body. So skip the vaginal hygiene products.

If there’s one bit of advice to pick up from all this, it is: Just come! We want to see you.

Take charge of your health! Today is a good day to make an appointment for an annual checkup or well-woman exam —call SHS at 816-923-5800. Talk with us about all the ways we can help you get healthier, at any age.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month!

March is best known as a month to celebrate basketball — but that’s not all. It’s also designated as a month to focus on healthy eating.

National Nutrition Month® is when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to think about the basics of eating right and making good food choices. The academy also celebrates registered dietician nutritionists as food and nutrition experts.

Ozella JonesAt Swope Health Services, Ozella Jones, Licensed Dietitian, keeps a focus on healthy eating every day of the year. She spends every day talking with people about how to make healthier choices in their foods — no matter their age or current health status.

“There isn’t one single diet that works for everyone,” Jones says. “So I try to work with each individual to figure out what kinds of foods are healthiest and can fit their own needs.”

Jones is a Registered Nutrition and Dietetics Technician. She works with individuals to address specific concerns such as healthy eating during pregnancy, managing diabetes,and eating more nutritiously, especially for those overseeing meals for kids.

But It doesn’t have to be complicated. Jones likes to guide her clients with a few simple tips:

  • Choose fruits or vegetables whenever you need a snack.
  • Eat a variety of foods such as lean meat, whole-grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables.
  • Walk every day. Or get whatever physical exercise you enjoy every day.
  • Make your plate colorful! Half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables.
  • Skip soft drinks. Try water.

4dollarsadayJones also encourages her patients to think about more than just what’s on the plate. She has resources for healthy shopping, meal planning, cooking, reducing calories, and getting physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Some of her favorite resources:

  • A free online (downloadable) cookbook called Good and Cheap, which was designed for healthy eating on $4 a day. That’s the budget used by more than 46 million people under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The cookbook shows that it’s possible to have satisfying food that’s also healthy. It includes tips for shopping and has suggestions for staples to keep on hand.
  • Using the Nutrition Facts panel: This page from org provides descriptions of what’s in a Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods. Guidelines include a reminder to compare the amount you eat to the serving size listed on the panel, and tips on using the Percent Daily Values on the panel.

It’s a SNAP!

NutritionFactsFor information on applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income residents purchase foods, visit the agency in your state:

Missouri Department of Social Services:

Kansas Department for Children and Families:

If you have questions about making the right food choices for your lifestyle and health needs, contact us for an appointment: 816-923-5800. We welcome your comments below.

Read Across America Celebration at SHS!

Dr. SeussOn Wednesday, March 2, Swope Health Services joined thousands of organizations in celebrating Read Across America Day.

Volunteers Ann Goodrich and Pam Bickel spent the morning in Pediatrics and WIC departments at SHS Central.

They sat one-on-one with children and quietly explored books, and at other times they read out loud to groups of kids. Children who participated selected stickers and took home a bag of books, donated via the Barnes & Noble holiday book drive.

Reading 1Sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), this annual celebration of reading also marks the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. That’s why our volunteers wore “Cat in the Hat” costumes and frequently used favorite Dr. Seuss books for read-alongs.

Goodrich, who has been a Reach Out and Read volunteer for more than two years, said she knows from personal experience as a Kindergarten teacher how important it is to read to children.

Children need a vocabulary of about 5,000 words by the time they start Kindergarten, she said. Those without will feel left behind, and she noted it can be difficult to catch up.

“I always tell parents to share their words with their kids,” she said. “You have 80,000 to 100,000 words — just give some to your child.”

Goodrich says it doesn’t even matter what you read — it’s OK to read your Facebook feed or text messages.

“They need to hear your voice,” she said. “They need to hear words and sounds to learn.”

According to the NEA, children who are read to and who read for pleasure are significantly more successful in school than children who do not.

Reading 3Goodrich agrees, and frequently takes time with parents to coach them with reading tips. You can make reading interactive by pointing out what’s happening on the page and asking your child questions about the story. Help build your child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects.

“You should read to children from Day One,” she said. “Take 20 minutes a day and hold the child on your lap. It’s a confidence you are putting into your child.”

If you missed our Read Across America celebration, you can still learn about reading to your children. You can find a Reach Out and Read volunteer in the WIC department, typically every Thursday morning, reading to kids and meeting with parents.

Call to make an appointment, even for a same-day visit, at 816-923-5800. Do you have suggestions for reading with kids? Leave us a comment about your favorite books or ways you make reading fun.

Reading 2

Get Covered! Health Insurance Sign-up Event This Saturday!

There’s still time to get free, in-person assistance* for selecting an insurance plan before Sunday’s deadline. Join us at our last open enrollment event in the Swope Health Services Central Community Room (Building C) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Our Certified Application Counselors can provide information you need to select an affordable, quality health care plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

You can also learn more about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates health insurance and provides subsidies for affordable plans for qualified individuals. If you don’t have coverage, you may have to pay a fee on your federal income tax of $695 or more, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

The deadline for signing up is Jan. 31, 2016. Don’t miss it!

*Assistance for Spanish speakers will also be provided.

Click on the image below to download the Marketplace Application Checklist:

Marketplace photo

 

(Related social media links: @HealthCareGov, @CuidadoDeSalud, #OpenEnrollment, #ACA, #GetCovered, facebook.com/HealthCare.gov, facebook.com/CuidadoDeSalud.gov)