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September 2, 2011 > Learn More About Health Insurance Options

Learn More About Health Insurance Options

Free Class May Help You Find the Coverage You Need

"If you are without health insurance, it's likely you are just one medical crisis away from losing everything you've worked for your whole life," observes Linda Dawal, Health Insurance Information Service Coordinator at Washington Hospital.
The enormity of this problem comes into greater focus when you realize that today, because of the poor economy and company lay-offs, there are more uninsured Americans than ever before. In California, nearly one in five is uninsured. In Alameda County, the 2010 Health Needs Assessment estimates 12 percent of residents have no health insurance. The report also concludes that people who are uninsured are far more likely to delay or not seek medical care than those who have insurance.

"We see these problems every day in our office," comments Dawal, who works at the Washington Hospital Health Insurance Information Service, a free and confidential service that can provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health insurance.

According to the California Healthcare Foundation, "health insurance is the primary financial vehicle for obtaining access to quality medical care and for reimbursing providers who deliver care."

On Thursday, September 15, Dawal and Health Insurance Information Service Coordinator Kristi Caracappa will present a free seminar, "Health Insurance Options: What You Need to Know." Sponsored by Washington Hospital, the class will be held in Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in Room B, next to Washington Hospital (Washington West) at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. To reserve your spot, go online to and look under Upcoming Seminars, or call (800) 963-7070.

"We will talk about different options for health insurance and what you can do if you are without it," says Caracappa. "The goal of our service at Washington Hospital is to help people get the health insurance or services they need, whether it be through low cost or free community programs or through government-sponsored programs. Our service is free and available to everyone, no matter who they are or where they live."

According to Caracappa, under federal health reform young adults can now be covered by their parents' insurance plan until they are 26. Children under 18 who don't have coverage may also qualify under the state's Healthy Families program. Both Dawal and Caracappa are Healthy Families certified application assistants, so they can assist people in filling out the paperwork.

When someone goes on COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act) as an extension of previously available health insurance coverage, they may not realize how expensive it is. Dawal and Caracappa recommend that you take the COBRA if your family can afford it. If not, they will offer suggestions on what you can do to keep your family healthy until you can obtain health insurance. During the seminar, Dawal and Caracappa will also talk about insurance options for people who have exhausted their COBRA coverage, as well as those who have pre-existing conditions.

The coordinators are knowledgeable about Medi-Cal insurance, too. They refer people who may qualify to Alameda County for help in applying for coverage. They can also assist people in enrolling for Medicare Part D prescription drug insurance coverage.

"In Alameda County alone, people can choose from 33 different drug insurance plans, and it can get very confusing," explains Dawal. "We use the Web site to help find the correct plan for an individual. We will also hold free seminars about Medicare Part D during the open enrollment period in October."

People who attend the seminar on September 15 will have an opportunity to ask questions about their own health insurance needs, or they can make a free appointment with the Health Insurance Information Service coordinators by calling (800) 770-9447, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Health Insurance Information Service Office is located in the Washington Community Health Resource Library in the Washington West building on Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

Learn More

If you have questions about the Washington Health Insurance Information Service or would like to learn more about health insurance coverage options, visit or call (800) 770-9447.

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