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. 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:

Uncomfortably Predictable: Race, Community and the Cycle of Violence

The focus of this blog has always been on access to and information on health, wellness, and health care. However, at this time, it feels more right to use this space to speak to the actively and publicly violent situation continuing in Ferguson, Missouri. There is much community dialogue around what’s going on, much press coverage, and much social media attention.

YWCAs across the country are fighting against racism. I see YWCA USA exercising leadership in the conversation around Ferguson and the death of Michael Brown. And for that reason, I share this blog post with you from YWCA USA, written by Donte Hilliard, the YWCA USA Director of Mission Impact.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
- U. S. Declaration of Independence 1776

YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
- Adopted by the General Assembly, 2009

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.
- Zora Neal Hurston

Donte Hilliard

Once again, an unarmed Black person is dead at the hands of local law enforcement agents. How many spectacles of bullet-riddled, broken Black bodies must we endure? How many cablecast reports and tweeted acts of grief and rage must we consume before we declare it is too much? How much evidence do we need before we admit that the United States of America has a problem?

Unfortunately, we at the YWCA USA know all too well that racialized community violence is neither novel nor rare for people of color in the U.S. Even as we join the hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrate their solidarity with the Brown Family (on the ground and online) as they grieve the loss of Michael Brown and seek justice, we know there are innumerable victims and survivors of this type of systemic violence who will never be acknowledged on a national platform.

We also know, that despite what continues to be revealed about the specifics of this incident in Ferguson, Mo., the script is uncomfortably predictable:

  • A person of color is racially profiled, surveilled and killed;
  • Despite being unarmed, he/she is accused of being a threat or threatening;
  • Peaceful, organized community action is ignored — framed as a riot rather than a protest or civic engagement, or rendered moot because of other acts (such as looting);
  • The local community is admonished for “rushing to judgment” and not waiting on the facts;
  • Images of the dead person of color surface that portray him or her as a scary, menacing, or gang-affiliated;
  • Local and national law enforcement agents and agencies will seek to frame the death in a race-neutral context, denying the reality of institutional and systemic racism; we will be asked to see victims, survivors and perpetrators only as individuals and not as members of social groups of varying institutional and structural power, while simultaneously being bombarded with racially-coded words and images;
  • Taxpayers will be treated as “enemy combatants,” rather than citizens who are guaranteed the right to gather, speak, and protest per our founding and governing documents.

What do we say and do in the face of this gut-wrenching, all-too-familiar cycle of violence against the psyche and soma of people of color?

We at the YWCA USA dare not desecrate the lives and memories of the victims and survivors of racialized community violence with hollow platitudes. Rather, we seek to transform our anger, confusion, and despair into action.

Here’s what we can do:

  • Locally, those near Ferguson can contact the YWCA of Metro St. Louis. This YWCA has a long history of working on racial justice and to end discrimination in St. Louis, through workplace seminars, hosting speakers, guided dialogues, and more. Amy Hunter, Director of Racial Justice, leads these groups to “increase understanding of the institutionalized and systemic impact of racism, work towards peace and healing and positively impact the community we all live in.” Earlier this week, she joined other community leaders at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant for a forum with Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.
  • No matter where you live, please take action today and tell Congress the time is now to end racial profiling—a United States problem that destroys American values of fairness and justice. Congress must take action and pass the End Racial Profiling Act this year. This bill requires that local law enforcement agencies receiving federal funds maintain adequate cultural competency policies and procedures for eliminating racial profiling. In addition, this bill allows victims to obtain declaratory or injunctive relief.
  • If you are or aspire to be a White racial justice ally, you MUST show up. Racism is a problem for all of us. People of color cannot be the only ones putting their bodies on the line.

Do not let this movement end here. Racialized community violence must not be allowed to remain a normal part of our daily lives. We must come together and continue to fight for the fair and equitable treatment of all.

The YWCA is a social justice organization and movement with over 150 years of experience providing direct service to, building with, and advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable people in our society: low wage workers, the unemployed, women and girls, people of color, non-native English speakers, members of the military, abuse survivors, etc. As a social justice organization, we have a deep and abiding commitment to working on issues of economic, gender, and racial justice — particularly in the places where these systems of oppression overlap each other.

As an organization dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, we will not allow issues of racial profiling, hate crimes and/or community violence be placed on the back burner.

Donte brings more than 10 years of administrative leadership in the areas of: Diversity, Inclusion & Social Justice; education/training in African American, Gender, and Religious Studies; knowledge and application of various social change models; history of advocacy for historically underrepresented groups; and coalition building within and across various communities. Donte has notable experience as faculty, trainer, community volunteer and activist, researcher and author, and has received many awards and honors. He is the co-founder and Chair of the Institute for Justice Education & Transformation (IJET), an initiative of the UW Madison Multicultural Student Center, that provides and supports opportunities for deep reflection and action around issues of Social Justice for underrepresented communities and their allies. Donte has a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas, a M.A. in African American studies from Ohio State University, and a M.A. in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary.

Can I sign up for health coverage before Open Enrollment starts?

In Washington, Open Enrollment for people to sign up for health insurance in 2015 is scheduled for November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015. This means that most people in Washington state aren’t able to sign up for health insurance until mid-November, and coverage won’t begin until January 1, 2015.

However, if you are eligible, you are able to enroll in Medicaid at any time. Medicaid is health coverage for individuals and families with low incomes. For example, if your income is $16,105 or less for a household of one person or if the household income for a family of four is $32,913 or less – you are likely eligible for Medicaid. Visit this page to learn more about Medicaid, how to apply, and how to renew coverage.

If you think you might be eligible for Medicaid, visit the Washington HealthPlanFinder page to check your eligibility and to apply. You’ll need your household monthly income, you and all household members’ Social Security numbers, and your immigration information, if that applies to you.

During this time that Open Enrollment is closed, it may still be possible to enroll in health coverage through Washington HealthPlanFinder – if you have a qualifying life event or a complex situation related to applying in the Marketplace. A qualifying life event includes if you’ve recently moved to Washington, if you have had certain changes in your income, if your household size changes – like if you marry, divorce, or have a baby – or if your citizenship status changed.

You may also be able to apply for insurance through the Marketplace due to a complex situation. For a list of qualifying complex situations, click here. Examples include if a serious medical condition kept you from enrolling during Open Enrollment in 2013-2014, if there were a system error related to immigration status when you were trying to enroll online, or if you’re a victim of domestic abuse and weren’t previously allowed to enroll and receive advance payments of the premium tax credit separately from your spouse.

Learn more about Washington state-specific information on special enrollment. And to get help enrolling in health coverage through the Marketplace, learn more about certified in-person assisters and contact an organization with in-person assisters in your area, ready to support you. You’re even welcome to reach out to the YWCA’s Outreach & Enrollment Specialist, Hodo Hussein. She may be enrolling community members at a site near you! Email Hodo at or call at 206.436.8674.

Friends help friends be healthy


Photo by Ben Earwicker, Garrison Photography

The friendships in our lives are important. The people we surround ourselves with become our support system, and we become theirs. Our friends become a part of how we live our lives. We can choose to support each other be healthy and safe.

What is one new way you and your friends can support each other be healthy?

The CDC shares some tips in celebration of last week’s National Girlfriends Day:

Be Active and Eat Healthy
Make healthy choices when you get together with your friends. Find fun ways to get physical activity like walking, dancing, gardening, or swimming. When eating out or cooking at home, be sure to include fruits and vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods and beverages high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars and salt.

Prevent Violence
Intimate partner violence has significant adverse health consequences. Nearly 1 in 4 women (24%) and 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This violence and its heavy toll can be prevented. Promoting respectful, nonviolent relationships is key.

If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

Give Up Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
Friends can be important sources of support. Resources are available for people who are trying to quit or cut down on drinking or give up smoking.

  • Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) increases the chances of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and other health problems.
  • Call 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) — to get information about drug and alcohol treatment in your local community.
  • Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and don’t expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems in infants, children, and adults.
  • Call the state tobacco quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-855-855-7081; relay service 1-800-833-6384 or visit smokefree women.

Summer Snacks Galore

It’s definitely summer in Seattle, and temperatures are forecasted to stay in the 80s for the next week. It’s hot out there, y’all!

Whether you have children home for the summer, are running from errand to errand in the heat of the late afternoon, or are just looking for a refreshing way to relax and enjoy the summer – here are some exciting new snack ideas to keep you and your family happy, healthy and hydrated!


Greek Yogurt Blood Orange “Creamsicle” Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup of Stonyfield Organic Nonfat Greek Yogurt
2 whole, peeled blood oranges
Zest of 1 blood orange (optional)
1 Tbsp organic raw honey
½ cup frozen mango chunks
4 ice cubes

Directions: Combine all ingredients and blend on high.


Frozen Fruit Kabobs
Wooden Skewers
Melted chocolate
Directions: Skewer the fruit and drizzle with chocolate. Freeze on a baking sheet for 1-2 hours or until frozen.


Fruit-Infused Waters
Benefits: Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. With a less-than-reliable thirst mechanism in later years, it’s common for water reserve to drop too low.

Directions: Clean and slice up to 1 cup of any of your favorite seasonal fruits or veggies and add them, along with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, to a 1-quart pitcher. Fill with water and let steep in the refrigerator for two hours or longer. Serve as is, or strain out fruit mixture. Try, say, a strawberry-lime-cucumber water:  Slice 12 large strawberries, one lime and one-fourth of a cucumber; add a few fresh crushed mint leaves along with ice and water and let steep. Note: For stronger flavors, muddle or crush fruits and herbs.

Fiftysomething Diet 5 Healthy Summer Treats 2


Join us at Stella Steps Out!

This year marks BABES Network-YWCA’s 25th anniversary! And we are celebrating this incredible milestone at Stella Steps Out – our annual gala fundraiser to benefit BABES.

BABES Network-YWCA is a peer education and support program for women living with HIV; a sisterhood of women facing HIV together. BABES was started by a group of HIV positive women in Seattle, Washington who came together to share information, experiences and support.

Stella Steps Out
Friday, September 5 at 6:00 p.m.
Lake Union Cafe
3119 Eastlake Ave E | Seattle, WA 98102

2014 Honoree: Jesse Chipps
Co-founder and founding director of BABES Network


Purchase tickets now for special early bird pricing, available through August 11!

This lively evening event, hosted by Sister Glo Euro’N Wei, will include a silent auction, dinner, wine and the always popular dessert dash.

Event proceeds will support BABES Network-YWCA, which ensures that women living with HIV and their families are empowered and connected to a supportive community.

For questions about this event, please contact Caroline Brown: 206.461.4481,

Thank you for your support!



Build your Financial Health @ the Financial Empowerment Center

YWCA Health Access tends to focus on serving the physical, mental and emotional health of women and families in Seattle and King County. But we also recognize the importance of and advocate for financial health in our communities. No matter what we have going on with our physical health, our finances play a role. It can be hard to move forward with our lives if we are struggling with old hospital bills that we can’t ever seem to pay down. It can be challenging to make to the doctor for our annual check-up when we’re working two or three jobs.

The YWCA and Neighborhood House collaborate to put on the Financial Empowerment Center, where community members can meet one-on-one with a Financial Counselor – for free! Working with a Financial Counselor can help you get your finances in order, make solid financial decisions, and start building a strong financial foundation that will serve the long-term success of your family. When we have healthy finances, it’s easier to care for the other aspects of our lives. And when we’re physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, it’s easier for us to thrive and care for our loved ones.

Call for an appointment with a Financial Counselor or to learn more about what services are available: 206.923.6555

FEC Flyer 0614


Summer’s Here! Outdoor Cooking Tips

With the holiday weekend fast approaching, I’m sure families all over the Puget Sound Region and across America are preparing to BBQ. Summer is here!

Earlier this week, Health Power for Minorities sent out some outdoor cooking tips in their July newsletter – to keep us all healthy and safe. Below is information directly from HPM’s newsletter. To sign up for their newsletter, click here.


Outdoor cooking can be great fun when one considers everything that goes into:

  • The Cooking, especially different styles of grilling, barbecuing, and adding other seasonings, and
  • The Eating, including adding the sides, dressings, trimmings, and social activity.

These tips will help you in Cooking Good and Eating Healthy!


Physical Safety First:

  • When carrying food to another location use cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40oF or below
  • Be sure the grill is in a well-lit area.
  • Be sure the ventilation is good, and the grill is not near trees, shrubs, or buildings.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fire
  • Have water nearby in a squirt bottle in case the fire flares up

Food Safety Next:

  • Keep all perishable foods, like foods with dairy products meat and poultry cold to limit bacterial growth.
  • If the outdoor temperature is less than 90oF, they should not sit out more than two (2) hours.
  • If the outdoor temperature is higher than that, perishable foods should not sit out for more than one hour.

Preparing the Food:

  • Wash hands before and after preparing foods.
  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
  • Thaw food in a refrigerator or microwave, but if a microwave is used; cook as soon as thawing is done.
  • Marinate (soak in a savory sauce to enrich the flavor or tenderize) meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature
  • Don’t use the same plate or utensils  for raw and cooked meat and poultry.  The juices from raw meat can contaminate the cooked food

About the Cooking:

  • Use a thermometer to be sure the food has been cooked to a safe temperature inside (You can’t tell from the outside).
  • Desirable Internal Temperatures (in Fahrenheit Degrees) for poultry, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and more are provided in our related blog post.
  • There are also tips about marinating food  including reusing marinade, what kind of containers to use, and how long to marinate different foods;

Grilling Hamburgers

  • Don’t keep uncooked ground beef in the refrigerator in the supermarket wrapping for more than two (2) days. . .
  • Be sure the grill is hot before cooking burgers to avoid their sticking to the grill.
  • Don’t salt burgers before they’re cooked because it draws the juices out, and More.

Enjoy cooking out, while staying safe!

Principal Outdoor Cooking Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
For more Health Power Cooking Good and Eating Healthy Tip Sheets, click here. 

Take the Test. Take Control.

National HIV Testing Day is Friday, June 27th.poster-nhtd

When was the last time you were tested for HIV?

… Let’s back up. What is HIV? Here’s a really helpful definition from

“HIV” stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. To understand what that means, let’s break it down:

H – Human – This particular virus can only infect human beings.
I – Immunodeficiency – HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. A “deficient” immune system can’t protect you.
V – Virus – A virus can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host.

HIV is a virus – like the flu. But it’s a virus that our immune systems aren’t able to clear out of our bodies. When we have HIV, “we have it for life.”  HIV attacks a key part of the immune system, the T-cells or CD4 cells. says: “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.”

There are about 50,000 new HIV infections in the US each year. About 15,500 people with an AIDS diagnoses in the US died in 2010. And while 15 years ago, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis was considered a death sentence, today there are many medications and medical treatments that have been successful in keeping people living with HIV/AIDS healthy and thriving for years and years.

However, 1 in 6 people living with HIV/AIDS don’t know that they’ve contracted HIV. In order to receive medical treatment and stay healthy, it’s super important to know your HIV status.

Friday is National HIV Testing Day. Before Friday, find an HIV testing site near you to take a test. You can find HIV testing sites and other services near you with the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator. It’s quick and often free. Knowing your HIV status is the first step to prevent the spread of HIV.


In June, there’s a health fair on Broadway



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