By Keith Seinfeld, Public Health – Seattle and King County
Thousands of people who have health insurance through Medicaid (also known as Apple Health, in Washington) risk losing coverage in coming months. Public Health—Seattle & King County and its partners in the community are leading an effort to help them take action in time.
For the past three years, more than 100,000 King County residents kept Apple Health coverage without needing to reconfirm their eligibility every year. Because of the pandemic, those requirements were suspended. That policy boosted Apple Health enrollment and helped lower the uninsured rate in King County down to 6.9%, which is near the record low of 6.7%.
Beginning this spring, some clients will need to verify that they’re still eligible for Apple Health. They will lose coverage if:
- They don’t submit a renewal form
- Their income is over the guidelines for Apple Health
The good news: There are options for people to keep health insurance coverage – if they act in time.
“It’s so easy for anyone to miss a letter or email these days, and that would be a horrible way to lose access to health care. We’re concerned for families and individuals, and urging everyone to help Medicaid clients understand what action they need to take,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Options to keep coverage
People who are no longer eligible for Apple Health will have the option of enrolling in a Qualified Health Plan, through Washington Healthplanfinder. With the new Cascade Care Assistance program, for example, many clients are paying $10 or less per month for their health insurance.
To help people take action, the Navigators with the Access & Outreach program (A&O) in Public Health are:
- Identifying zip codes and racial/ethnic communities with the largest numbers of Medicaid clients
- Working with community organizations in those communities to raise awareness and provide resources
- Some Apple Health clients will be automatically re-enrolled because their income and citizenship status can be confirmed through existing federal and state verification systems.
- Anyone who cannot be automatically re-enrolled, must submit their renewal form and proof of income if requested.
- Renewal notices will be sent to people who need to submit a renewal form.
- Renewal dates are based on when someone first enrolled – which means every month, a different group of people needs to take action.
- New low-cost health insurance options called Cascade Care and Cascade Care Select are available through Washington Healthplanfinder.
Steps to take for Apple Health clients:
- Check your account to make sure your contact info is up to date (at WAHealthplanfinder.org)
- Be on the lookout for a letter or electronic message about renewal
- If you get a letter or message, take action
- If you have any confusion or questions, get help from a Navigator
How to get help from a Navigator:
- Call Public Health for assistance at 1-800-756-5437
- Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find in-person enrollment locations www.kingcounty.gov/enroll
- Make an appointment with a Navigator at www.kingcounty.gov/outreach (registration form is at the bottom of the outreach webpage page)
Originally published 3-15-23
Keith Seinfeld is 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.