20 minutes flat! Time it took Seattle hairstylist to sign up for free health and dental coverage
My own daughter is thousands of miles away in college, far from mind, but my maternal instincts kicked into overdrive this morning. I arose bright and early, hell bent on a mission to safeguard the lovely young woman who cuts my hair. Time and again, I've seen Heather go the extra mile for others, artfully modifying a hipster’s self-administered purple dye disaster, brokering peace between a mother and child locked in a hair showdown. Heather excels at taking care of others; but I know she's not so good at taking care of herself.
She’s been working long hours to get her new business, Canary Salon, up and running on Seattle's Capitol Hill. We’ve talked about why, even though she's young and healthy, she needs health insurance, and the fact that new, affordable options are now available. But Heather was dubious. "Why hassle with it?" She wondered. "Last time I looked into buying health insurance, I found nothing but high premiums and fine print."
Realizing that today would be Heather's first day off in months, I practically leapt out of bed. No way was I going to snooze through the deadline for her to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. As the veteran of a few health catastrophes, I know, all too well, the importance of being able to see a doctor if something unexpected comes up. And so, with the resolve of a woman blocking 2 lanes of traffic for her toddler to safely tricycle across, I texted Heather: "I'll fix u breakfast & help u enroll. It'll take an hour, tops."
The coffee was brewed when Heather arrived, her tax information at hand. I plopped her in front of my computer, open to the official site for the Washington State Healthplanfinder. Next I shared a few tips gleaned from Ingrid, another woman who had successfully enrolled only a few days earlier.
Then I slipped downstairs to prepare veggie omelets. A few minutes into slicing onions and zucchini, I called up to check on Heather. She was already deep into the security questions. By minute 20, the vegetables were sautéing on a low simmer when she blurted out, "What does this mean?"
I raced up the steps to find her staring, puzzled, at the message on the screen: her Apple Health coverage for adults begins January 1.
"Congratulations! Starting in 2014 you will have no cost health and dental insurance!" I explained.
Astonished, Heather turned to me. There was a long pause. The first words out of her mouth were "This is so rad."
Rad indeed, it is wonderful news for Heather.
Is she unusual?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is estimated that half of all young people between 18 and 35 can now get health coverage for $50 a month or less. Depending on your income and family size, you may qualify for low cost or no cost coverage as well.
Pour yourself a good strong cup of coffee and gather:
- Last year’s tax return and this month’s income information;
- Your bank account information; and
- Birthdates and social security numbers of everyone in your household.
If you live in Washington State, go to the official website://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/ 1-855-WAFINDER (855-923-4633)
When you’re finished enrolling, pat yourself on the back, call your mom and share the good news. Then both of you, in unison, can breathe one big, happy, sigh of relief.