Enrolling in health insurance for 2015

Open Enrollment is on its way! Starting on Saturday, November 15th, we’ll be able to apply for, renew, or change our health insurance plans through the Washington state Health Benefit Exchange. This year, enrollment runs from November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015. Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • November 15, 2014. This is your first day to apply for, keep, or change your coverage.
  • December 15, 2014. Enroll by the 15th if you want new coverage that begins on January 1, 2015. If your plan is changing or you want to change plans, enroll by December 15th to avoid a lapse in coverage.
  • December 31, 2014. The day all 2014 Marketplace [also known as Health Benefit Exchange] coverage ends, no matter when you enrolled. Coverage for 2015 plans can start as soon as January 1st.
  • February 15, 2015. The last day you can enroll in 2015 coverage before the end of Open Enrollment.

There will be double the number of plans available for 2015 coverage as there were for 2014 – so make sure to take some time to review the plans to find the best one for you and your family. If you signed up for a 2014 plan through the Exchange, you will most likely be eligible to automatically renew for 2015. However, it’s possible that your plan may be one of the few not available for 2015 – so best to double-check. Regardless of which plan you chose in 2014, you will be able to update your application and shop for new plan options.

If you want coverage from a new plan to start January 1, 2015, be sure to enroll by December 23, 2014, at 4:59pm. Also, keep an eye out for “Open Enrollment Renewal” notices from Washington HealthPlanFinder – this letter will give you more information about 2015 coverage, the renewal process, and any steps you might need to take.

Don’t forget that, if you’re eligible, you can enroll in Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) throughout the year. There is no enrollment period for this health coverage. If you are enrolled in Apple Health now, you will receive a notice 60 days before the month you enrolled or renewed your coverage last year.

If you would like any assistance at all during the enrollment period, please reach out to a certified Navigator in your area. You can do a search here. Navigators will assist you at no cost to you, and they are committed to helping you find, compare, and select a health plan that’s best for you and your family.

Breast Health Education & Teens!

Parents are a child’s first teachers! We spend countless hours assisting young people in acquiring skills that we hope will enable them to make wise decisions over the course of their lives. Yet many parents find it difficult to have conversations with their children about physical anatomy and human sexuality. Is it discomfort that keeps parents from addressing these topics? Perhaps it is because  many parents are not prepared, while still others simply fear having these vital conversations and believe this information will fuel the flame of curiosity.

Marilyn @ Naam 2012

Marilyn Calbert at a mobile screening event

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as a YWCA Wellness Advocate, I have been leading many conversations around breast health and supporting community mammography screening events. At one event in particular, I noticed a teen with her mother staring intently at the prosthetic teaching device as I demonstrated how to perform a breast self exam to the woman. The look on the teen’s face displayed mixed emotions. I could see fear as I talked about breast cancer, and I could see curiosity as she moved in closer to the model and crept her finger to the edge of it as she discretely tried to touch it. I also watched her mother squirm with discomfort as she watched her daughter. The mother shared that she brought her daughter to the event to teach her the importance of having a mammogram.

The mother also told me how her daughter had been asking her about the purpose behind the pink ribbon campaign. She had asked, “Do you get mammograms, Mom?”  The mother had replied yes, had explained the process of a mammogram to her daughter, and had asked if she would like to come with her to the appointment. Having come to the mammography event together, they both looked at me with smiles of relief as I continued sharing information about breast health with both of them!

Since that interaction, I have looked more closely at information on the importance of explaining mammograms and gynecological exams to teens:

Helping teens gain this awareness is giving them a boost up to being healthy adults. Every teenage girl should have had at least one pelvic exam by the time she graduates from high school. This exam should come sooner if she is sexually active. During the visit for the pelvic exam, the doctor will also perform a clinical breast exam, palpitating both breasts and under the arms to check for lumps and other signs (such as dimpling of the skin and unusual discharge from the nipple) of breast cancer.

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues and I continue educating women and their families about the importance of mammograms, I am reminded of this teen and her mom. I am also reminded of my very first mammogram at the age of 18. My mom hadn’t talked to me about self breast exams, nor had she taken me to a mammogram appointment with her  – even though she went to them faithfully. And I don’t remember there being such wide-spread media coverage or public information in my community about breast health and breast cancer.

At 18 years old, I discovered a lump! I immediately told my mom and we made an appointment to have things checked out. After having a clinical breast exam by the doctor, I had my very first mammogram. I remember being afraid, crying and praying! Many thoughts went through my mind and I didn’t understand what was going on with my body. For the next few days, I read everything I could on the breast and breast cancer.

At that time – in the 1970s – the recommendation was to have surgery and have the lump removed. These days, doctors often perform an ultrasound or biopsy to learn more about what’s going before talking about surgery. After my surgery, I awoke in recovery and the first thing I did was touch my breast. I cannot began to tell you the relief and joy I felt when it was just a benign cyst! Everything was ok.

From that day till this one, I have always examined my breasts, had mammograms, and encouraged others to do monthly self breast exams on the 7th day after their cycle starts or on the date of their birth if they are no longer having menstrual cycles.

If you don’t have health insurance or are in need of a mammogram, call  206-461-4489 and I can assist you!

Health Fair @ KeyArena – Free Dental, Medical, Vision Care

The Seattle Center Foundation is hosting a free dental, vision and medical care health fair – and YOU are invited! The health fair will go take place on October 23-26 at the Seattle Center. See below for the flyer and very important logistical information. For additional information, visit the health fair’s website.



How Do I Get Into the Clinic?

  • No registration necessary – first come, first served!
  • Both the parking garage (1st Ave N) and the building (NW Rooms) where people line up to get admission numbers open at 12 Midnight each day (Click here for map)
  • Limited admission numbers, for that day only, will be distributed starting at 3:30am.
  • The first patients will be admitted to the clinic by number starting at 5:30am.

How Should I Prepare for the Clinic?
Please be advised that this will be a long day and you are responsible for your needs.

  • ALL WELCOME. Patients DO NOT need identification or proof of citizenship.
  • Bring some food and beverages including breakfast, lunch, snacks and water.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Minors need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • When your number is called and you enter KeyArena, you will stay inside until you have received all the services you are seeking for the day. If you leave KeyArena, you cannot return that day. Be prepared for a long day at the clinic.

Will Someone Speak My Language?

  • Interpretation services will be available to assist patients throughout the clinic.

What Happens Once I Enter the Clinic?

  • Because of the large number of patients, you can only seek care in either vision or dental, in addition to medical care, in one day.
  • Patients can wait in line for an admission number on another day for additional services.
  • We will collect basic personal information including name, age, height, weight, and medical history.
  • In each service area (dental, vision, or medical) you will wait your turn in line and will be seen on a first come, first served basis.

What Not to Bring:

  • No drugs, alcohol, or weapons are allowed on the premises.
  • Pets, except service animals.

NOTE: Narcotics will not be used or prescribed. Authorization for medical marijuana will not be provided.

Find out more in Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Patient Parking & Admission Line Map

Violence: Learn more, Do more

Where have you experienced or witnessed violence in your life?

Futures_Share_Graphic_650px-3Futures Without Violence has found that about 1 in 3 teenagers report some kind of abuse – including emotional and verbal abuse – in a romantic relationship.

Every day, an average of 483 women are raped or sexually assaulted in the United States.

In the past year, more than 5 million children were exposed to physical intimate partner violence – 6.6% of children in our country. Of these children, 1 in 3 reported being physically abused themselves.

With statistics like these, we could say that we have all been exposed to violence somewhere and at some point in our lives – whether we’ve experienced it ourselves or someone close to us has. We see the consequences to exposure to violence all around us. Violence leads to more violence and our exposure to it impacts our health and the health of our loved ones. For example:

  • Women victimized by abuse are more likely to be diagnosed with serious health problems including depression, panic attacks, high risk behaviors such as tobacco and substance abuse and sexual risk taking, as well as migraines, chronic pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, inconsistent use of birth control, and delayed entry into prenatal care.

  • Pregnant women are frequent targets of abuse and, as a result, are placed at risk for low birth weight babies, pre-term labor — pregnant and parenting teens are especially vulnerable.

  • Abused children and those exposed to adult violence in their homes may have short and long term physical, emotional and learning problems, including: increased aggression, decreased responsiveness to adults, failure to thrive, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, hyper vigilance and hyperactivity, eating and sleeping problems, and developmental delays.

It’s one thing to know more about violence in our communities and in our country – and another to be able to do something about it. When I stop and think – Ok, how, then, do we stop violence? – I get stuck. It’s such a BIG issue and incredibly complex. But it seems a few groups of people have some ideas. Here are a few ideas from the Coalition to End Violence Against Women in Sudbury, Canada:

  1. Recognize that it’s a men’s issue: Violence against women is not just a woman’s issue, it’s also a men’s issue that involves men of all ages, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  2. Break the silence: When you are ready, tell others your stories about survival; this can help others share their stories thus reducing the shame associated with abuse.
  3. Listen to women: When a woman discloses about violence in her life, listen and believe her.Futures_Share_Graphic_650px-1
  4. Heal the violence in your own life: Many of us are survivors of abuse in some way and many of us fear becoming a victim of violence.  If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically or sexually abused, get help. Get counselling or join a support groupIf you are abusive to women, in any way, get help now.
  5. Make violence your business: Some of us tend to have this belief that violence is a private thing and we should not be asking questions about other people’s business or relationships – especially when there is trouble. If you suspect violence in a home or if someone is being abused, ask them. Looking the other way will not help end violence against women. They may not tell you right away but your concern may show them you are someone they can trust. If you need extra support in support someone who is being abused, call your local women’s shelter or crisis line.
  6. Raise non-violent children: Talk to your children about abuse and violence. Help them find non-violent ways to solve conflicts and encourage co-operative and non-violent play. Don’t use violence as punishments.
  7. Support initiatives that promote women’s equality: Women make up the majority of victims of abuse. Get involved in your community’s rallies or awareness campaigns on ending violence. Help raise money so we can continue to our prevention work or volunteer in an organization working to end violence against women.
  8. Challenge sexism: Media often portray women as sexual objects and often use images of violence against women to sell products.  Websites, music, movies, even books often describe and portray women in a sexual degrading or abusive manner. This is not OK. Challenge those statements by talking about the realities of women. Challenge gender roles.

Next week is the YWCA’s Week without Violence – a signature initiative created by YWCA USA nearly 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs. What will you do to take a stand, interrupt violence, and promote peace, health and wellness? What will you do to get involved?

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.

-Martin Luther King, Jr. 


For support around domestic violence, contact Doris O’Neal in Seattle at 206.280.9961 or JoJo Goan in South King County at 425.226.1266, ext.1017 or rgaon@ywcaworks.org. Learn more about YWCA services available for individuals and families experiencing domestic violence. To speak with a counselor to talk through something you’re experiencing, call us at 425.922.6192.

Know Your Body

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time of year when we all strengthen our focus on breast health for women and men. If you don’t know how to examine your own breasts, take a moment to learn. If you haven’t had your mammogram yet this year, take a moment to schedule that appointment. And if you want to talk to someone about joining one of our mobile screening events, call Ingrid Berkhout at 206.461.4493, Marilyn Calbert at 206.461.4489, or Karly Garcia at 425.226.1266 x1006.


Living well with HIV

What is HIV?

To start, it is the abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that can only infect people and that weakens the immune system. Unlike other viruses, HIV does not clear out of the body – there is currently no cure for HIV.

According to AIDS.gov,

We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and that it attacks a key part of your immune system – your T-cells or CD4 cells. Your body has to have these cells to fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them.

Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your CD4 cells that your body can’t fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV infection can lead to AIDS, the final stage of HIV infection.

It used to be said that HIV was a “death sentence” – but nowadays, there are many options for treatment and medication, and programs throughout the United States to help patients afford medication.

Around the world, there are about 35 million people living with HIV. There are about 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, 12,300 living in Washington state, and about 7,300 in King County. In the United States, 16% of those living with HIV don’t know they are – which means they haven’t been tested and aren’t receiving the medical treatment that will help them be healthy in the long-term. What to get tested? Click here for more info on local testing sites.

For those living with HIV, medical treatment isn’t the only way to stay healthy. Having a good relationship with a doctor, and honestly and openly discussing your health is an important part of taking care of your health. And, there are additional ways to live well.

  • Manage your mental health – talk to a counselor if you’re experiencing major stress or just need to talk through some things.
  • Avoid using substances like drugs and alcohol in a way that harms your health.
  • Consider quitting smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products. Smoking isn’t healthy for anyone, but it also can increase your risk of co-infections if you’re living with HIV. Learn more here.
  • Follow a healthy diet – talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about learning how to improve your diet. Are you getting enough veggies? What about protein?
  • Keep moving! Exercise increases your strength, endurance and fitness. It helps your immune system work better to fight infections.
  • Talk about family planning options with your health care provider – there are lots of options for birth control and ways to plan for having children.
  • Learn about how to prepare to travel abroad.

These are just some ideas. What do you need to be healthy and live well? Make sure to talk about your goals with your doctor, and find support to help you be successful!

If you are a woman living with HIV, consider giving us a call at BABES Network-YWCA at 206.720.5566. BABES is here to support women living with HIV and their families. We’re happy to connect with you on the phone or via email. Or, you can join us at a support group or upcoming retreat. We’d love to get to know you and have you join the sisterhood!


Make a Plan. Be Prepared.

NPM_logo_CMYKNo matter where we live, there is always the possibility of a man-made or natural disaster.

September is Disaster Preparedness Month. This is a great time to make a plan and practice it with your family so that if there is a disaster – like an earthquake, wildfire or flood – you’ll be able to be safe and prepared together.

It only takes a few steps to become more prepared.

For example – you can build an emergency supply kit that includes:

  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Food, at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Can opener for food
  • Local maps

Some additional items to consider adding to your emergency kit are:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

FEMA has a full checklist available that can help you put together a solid emergency supply kit. Go through it with a family member and start setting items aside now.

And if you or a family member is living with a disability or is a senior, learn about how to enhance your plan. For example, consider how to care for any service animals or pets; talk to friends, neighbors or coworkers in case you would be in need of assistance; and include important documents in your emergency kit like copies of your social security card, medical records, and bank account information. Read more about some of these specialized tips at FEMA’s Make a Plan website.

Take the steps now to protect yourself and your family in the event of a disaster.

Visit www.ready.gov to learn more and access resources – o visita www.ready.gov/es si habla español.


25 Years of BABES

Last Friday, BABES Network-YWCA celebrated our 25th anniversary at Stella Steps Out, our annual fundraising event. Many thanks to all who made this event a success!

To honor those we have lost over the years and to honor those who have worked and continue supporting women living with HIV, we share this video with you.

Congratulations, BABES Network, for 25 years of incredible dedication to positive women and their families!

BABES Network is a sisterhood of women facing HIV together. We reduce isolation, promote self-empowerment, enhance quality of life, and serve the needs of women facing HIV and their families through outreach, peer support, advocacy, and education.

Racism and the Future of the Unborn

Imagine you are a Caucasian young woman, at the doctor’s office and you have just learned you are expecting your first child! A myriad of thoughts and emotions flood your mind. What will the sex of my baby be? Will it be healthy and who will it resemble – me or the father, who is African American?

While you sit in the laboratory waiting room to have your prenatal testing, a news anchor shares this information,

In a 2001 study, participants were shown a picture of a white face or a black face followed immediately by a picture of a weapon or a tool. They were asked to identify the object as quickly as possible. Study participants more often identified weapons correctly after they saw a black face, and more accurately identified tools after seeing an image of a white face. What’s more, “they falsely claimed to see a gun more often when the face was black than when it was white.”

Next, you reach for your phone and search the web for details surrounding the recent news relating to the killing of the unarmed African American young man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO.

Fear, instead of joy, now encompasses your mind as you compassionately cradle your abdomen with anxiety for the future life of your unborn child if the child does in fact more closely resemble the father!

Continuing this quest for answers in a means to prepare for raising and protecting a black child in America you read:

2005 study by University of Colorado neuroscientists bolsters these findings. The scientists measured threat perception and response in the brains of 40 students to targets in a video game, some of whom were carrying pistols while others carried wallets or cellphones. The study authors predicted that because there is a cultural perception that African-Americans are “more threatening,” participants’ “shoot response” would come more naturally. Indeed that’s how it panned out. The study found that the students shot black targets with guns more quickly than white targets with guns, and took longer to decide not to shoot unarmed blacks than unarmed whites.


www.generalhealthproblems.comLeaving the doctor’s visit, you immediately head home to share the news with the father! As you stick the key in the door, you think: What do I tell him first? Should I share with him the saddening news of the study – or should I ask him how are we going to continue living in America in hopes of protecting our biracial child, who will hopefully one day grow up and  be able to walk the neighborhood safely with friends!

We know that the stress we experience in our lives impacts the quality of our health. While pregnancy can be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, it can also be a stressful time. And, if a woman has experienced chronic stress at unhealthy levels before her pregnancy, that stress may impact her health throughout the pregnancy and in the long term, as well as the health of her child.

Research shows that chronic stress – like the experience of racism – impacts birth outcomes and the health of an individual over the course of their lives:

The body’s response to chronic stress, it seems, can also harm a fetus by subjecting it to the same negative biological conditions of chronic stress, which are different than responses to individual stressing events. The ongoing exposure to large quantities of stress hormones is thought to be a leading cause in disparate pregnancy outcomes, as stress is known to be a complicating factor for pregnancy.

We do our best to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. And often, outside forces continue to impact our health – whether those outside forces be the quality of the air we breathe, the affordability of health care services, or racism embedded in systems and institutions throughout our American society.

While we cannot fix racism, at the YWCA, we have some services that can be helpful. If you are expecting a baby and could use support accessing services and resources, call Pat Hampton in the YWCA Healthy Birth Outcomes program at 206.436.8667. If you’d find it helpful to talk to someone about the stress or anxiety you’re feeling, call 425.922.6192 to talk to a counselor in our Community Mental Health program. We’re here for you.

Medicare: Preparing for 65

At YWCA Health Access, we believe that access to health care is a right, and that an important component of health care access is having coverage.

Across the country and in Washington state, the number of people 65 and over is growing. The 65+ population in Washington is expected to be 13.9 next year, and is expected to rise to 18.1 by 2030. As our population ages, it becomes more and more important that seniors understand the services available to them and know how to access them. Most people 65 and older have at least one medical health condition – like diabetes or high blood pressure – so it becomes especially important to receive regular health care to stay on top of these chronic conditions.

MyLocalHealthGuide.com recently published information on Medicare and what is important to know as you approach age 65. Below are some key pieces of information about Medicare. Read the full, original article here, and pass on the information to others in your life who may benefit.

Remembering the difference among Medicare plans can be difficult. Here are the different options available.

  • Original Medicare (Parts A and B) is a federal insurance program that offers basic coverage for hospital care and medical expenses and no coverage for prescriptions. Beneficiaries typically must pay a premium for Part B coverage. Many find they need additional coverage for services not covered by Original Medicare.
  • Medicare Supplement plans pay some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including deductibles and coinsurance. Beneficiaries must pay an additional premium.
  • A Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), or Medicare Part D, provides prescription drug coverage, helps lower prescription drug expenses and protects against higher costs in the future. Beneficiaries must pay an additional premium.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) typically provides extra benefits, services and often prescription drug coverage. Beneficiaries may or may not pay an additional premium.

Did you know there are certain times when you can enroll in Medicare plans? To get coverage starting in 2015, seniors must review plan options and enroll during the window October 15-December 7, 2014. But if you are turning 65 before October, you’re able to enroll earlier in the year. There’s a special Initial Enrollment Period when you can enroll: this window includes the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and the three months following.

For more information about Medicare, how to enroll and other considerations, check out these resources:


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