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Helping people navigate their way to Washington Apple Health

HBE navigator, Jose Rodriguez

For many people, shopping for health insurance is confusing.

All those questions: Where do I start? How much will it cost? Do I qualify? What about coverage for my spouse or kids? What the heck is a health insurance marketplace anyway?

Fortunately, there is help. Many people have turned to community navigators such as Jose Rodriguez of Community Health Centers of Snohomish County to help them shop for the best coverage through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid).

Jose is one of hundreds of navigators around the state who have been trained and certified through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to help people find coverage and select a health plan that’s just right for them online at Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org). 

“In whatever office, we are here to answer your questions and help you,” says Jose. “It’s very easy at Snohomish County Community Health center, or at any other health organization.”

Some clients’ circumstances are admittedly more difficult than others. Take, for example, one of Jose’s clients, a Hispanic mother of two. According to Jose, life was extremely difficult for her before she qualified for Apple Health. “She said that the times she went to see the doctor, she wasn’t able to pay for it,” says Jose. When she needed life-saving surgery, she had to travel to Mexico because she couldn’t afford the procedure in the United States.

At the time, she was still waiting to become a legal U.S. citizen and lived under constant fear of jeopardizing her chances of becoming a citizen until her immigration status was settled. Fortunately, when she eventually did become a U.S. citizen, she was able to apply for health coverage through Apple Health with Jose’s help.

“We spoke to her and she realized nothing was going to happen, and she was okay,” recalls Jose. “We helped her answer the questions, we helped her with whatever fears she had…and made her feel at ease.”

“Now that she has insurance she can go to the medical [clinic] and the dentist without worry and without having to pay,” says Jose.

So, what advice does Jose and other navigators have for those who haven’t enrolled in health coverage yet? “Apply for Apple Health, because you never know when you’re going to qualify,” says Jose. “It’s fast, it’s easy . . . we are here to answer your questions and help you.”

Need help enrolling? Visit www.wahbexchange.org/get-help for a list of navigators nearest you. All navigators are trained to assist you whether you prefer to receive assistance online, over the phone, or in person.

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