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The Affordable Care Act is working to deliver affordability, access, and quality to millions of Americans across the country.

Looking for health insurance that fits your needs and your budget? Look no further than the Health Insurance Marketplace. All plans in the Marketplace cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, recommended preventive care and more. Open enrollment begins November 15. Enroll by December 15, 2014 for coverage that starts January 1, 2015. To find the latest, most accurate, information about the Marketplace visit HealthCare.gov.

If you have health coverage through the Marketplace, it's time to review your plan and decide if you need to make changes for 2015. Every fall, your health insurance company sends you a letter explaining changes to premiums and benefits for the coming year. You can choose to stay in your current plan (as long as it's still offered) or make changes. If you don't take action by December 15, 2014, you could miss out on better deals and cost savings.

It's easy to renew. There are 5 steps to stay covered: 

1.     Review: Plans change, people change. Every year insurance companies can make changes to premiums, cost sharing or benefits and services they provide. Review your plan's 2015 coverage to make sure it still meets your needs and you're getting the best plan for you. 

2.     Update:  Starting November 15, visit HealthCare.gov and log into your Marketplace account. Answer a few questions to get to your 2015 application - it will be pre-filled with your latest information from 2014. Step through each page of your application and make changes if you need to. This is important - even if none of your information has changed, you might be eligible for lower costs than last year! You also can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to review or make updates over the phone.

3.     Compare:  Log into your Marketplace account and follow the "Enroll To Do List" on HealthCare.gov to compare 2015 plan costs and benefits. New and more affordable plans may be available in your area this year. If you decide to stay in your current plan, follow the directions to search by that plan's 14-digit ID - you can find the ID on the letter from your plan. Or, call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 for help.

4.     Choose:  Choose a health plan for 2015. You can keep the same plan (as long as it's still offered) or select a new one that better fits your needs. If you want to stay enrolled in your 2014 plan, use the plan ID in the letter you get from your health plan.

5.     Enroll: The Marketplace open enrolment period begins on November 15. Make sure to review, update, compare and choose by December 15 to have any changes take effect on January 1.  Stay covered for 2015! Contact your plan to confirm your enrollment. Make sure to pay your premium.

If you don't finish all of the steps by December 15, we'll try to enroll you automatically so you stay covered. But this coverage might not be your best option for 2015 and you could miss out on cost savings.

If you have questions or need to find someone who can help you in person, we can help. Find local help at: Localhelp.healthcare.gov/

Or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325. The call is free.  

The hottest days of the year often fall during the month of August when the dog days of summer are truly upon us. The Anglo-Saxons called it "weodmonath" which means "weed month" because it is the month when weeds tend to overtake anything in their path. The same can be true at home when long days and late sunsets send schedules adrift and families neglect the rigor of their healthy habits shaped by the rhythms of the school year.


That might be why many national family-friendly observances take place in August, They provide a chance to recognize that summer is winding down and encourage everyone to get outside and participate in community activities before the back to school pace sets in.

The first Sunday in August ha a triple designation as American Family Day, and National Kid's Day. Celebrating children during the summer season is no brainer and ideal opportunity to join friends at the pool or spend an afternoon picnicking.

The first Tuesday in August is National Night Out. Originating in 1984, the idea is for neighborhoods to plan block parties, parades and cookouts communally.

The Month of August is peppered (pun intended) with a plethora of fun food observances; August 2nd is shared by Ice Cream Sandwich Day August 3rd is Watermelon Day and the first Saturday of August is Mustard Day to name just a few.

If you're a thrill seeker, get the family to the nearest theme park in August 16th and observe Roller Coaster Day, celebrating the patent dating back to 1898!

Back home, checkout two great ideas at TogetherCounts.com for getting your family motivated to be back in the swing of their healthy habits. Planning a team dinner and organizing a summer family fitness night area breeze-and you'll find step-by-step instructions to get started. They are perfect ways make the most of long summer days and evenings.

Our organization is a proud partner and member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), dedicated to providing resources promoting healthy lifestyles for families. 






By Barbara Kasoff

 

A few weeks ago I had the chance to spend some time talking to the people at MyHealthteams.  I began talking with them for a couple of reasons:  first, because of a series WIPP is doing on chronic disease, and second because in my family there are two members with chronic disease - autism and breast cancer.  I know first hand the loneliness, anxiety and frustration that so man people experience every day.  I asked them to tell me about their work, I took a tour of their sites and I was overwhelmed with what I saw.  Here's a blog I asked them to write sharing the information about MyHealthteams.  Let me know what you think!

 

Talk to anyone impacted by a chronic condition - autism, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer - whatever disease or condition, they will all tell you it's not easy.  It's not easy finding the support that best suits them.  It's not easy finding providers.  It's not easy period.  At MyHealthTeams we create social networks for chronic condition communities.  We believe that when you or a loved one are diagnosed with a disease it should be easy to connect with people just like you, who can share their daily experiences, and help you discover the best people around to help you.

 

Since we founded MyHealthTeams in 2010, we've launched three social networks - MyAutisimTeam, for parents of children with autism, MyBCTeam, for women facing breast cancer and MyMSTeam for those living with multiple sclerosis.

 

Each of the social networks we've built has been fully embraced by the communities we've addressed. Our flagship community, MyAutismTeam, has in less than 24 months, grown from 30 parents to more than 40,000 parents from across the U.S.  MyBCTeam already has roughly 4,000 women on the site since our launch in September 2012 and MyMSTeam will launch in the coming weeks. Users of all the social networks, share recommendations of local providers, openly discuss daily triumphs and issues, share tips, and gain access to local services.

 

Three major drivers behind the growth of our sites:

 

1. People crave connections with other people just like them - they just need a safe and reliable environment to do so.

2. The simplicity of our technology - our communities reflect aspects of social networks that our users are already familiar with (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) which provides for high user engagement.

3. The rapid word-of-mouth amongst these communities.

 

One in two Americans live with a chronic condition [1] and they are seeking support from not only their medical providers, but also from people like them.  In fact, for women with breast cancer, recent studies shown that having strong support improves outcomes [2].  Sharing with people who are in your shoes, offers a sense of community that can't be found elsewhere - these are people who know the language of your condition; they understand the daily frustrations and the small triumphs that can mean so much.

 

With the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, implementing and expanding wellness programs has taken on a new importance for companies. Organizations are seeking resources that not only help improve the quality of life for their employees, but also help control health care spending. Social networks, like the ones created by MyHealthTeams, allow employers to offer unique resources to their employees allowing them to create the support networks they need to get through to the next day.

 

For more information on the social networks created by MyHealthTeams, visit http://www.myhealthteams.com.

 

 

[1] An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease, Charting a New Course to Save Lives and Increase Productivity and Economic Growth, Milken Institute, By Ross DeVol and Armen Dedroussian, Oct 2007 )free download: http://milkeninstitute.org/publications/publications.taf?function=detail&ID=38801018&cat=resrep)

 

[2] Journal of Clinical Oncology, Social Networks, Social Support, and Survival After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Candyce H. Kroenke, et al., March 1, 2006

 

 

Join WIPP & Take The Pledge To Stop Texting While Driving

WIPP is excited to join the It Can Wait campaign alongside AT&T. In our 24/7 world, text messaging is increasingly becoming the way we communicate today. Unfortunately, some people may be texting from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. But when that habit hits the road, it can be dangerous. In fact, those who text while driving are  23 times more likely to be in a crash. You can help ensure that America's roads are safer. Please read and discuss these tips & resources with your family and friends. Then make it official by signing the pledge!

Mitchell Schermer, an intern at Madison Services Group, WIPP's government relations team in D.C., attended a Bipartisan Policy Center event on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Here's what he had to say:

The Affordable Care Act: Success Dependent on Perspective

To say the timeline surrounding the passage of the Obama Administration's hallmark legislation has been turbulent would be an understatement. After passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by Congress in 2010 and a lengthy legal battle before the highest court in the land, the ACA was vetted and upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Since then, the debate over the law has endured, with individuals and organizations on both sides of the aisle weighing in on the reach of its impacts.

This week, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) held an event entitled "What's Next After the Supreme Court Decision", which brought folks together from across the political spectrum to engage in a discussion about the real effects of the implementation of the ACA at the individual, corporate and state levels. It is refreshing to know that conversations are going beyond the sound bites and are now focusing on how to implement the law. The panels did not cast a rosy or gloomy picture; they dealt with the challenges of making healthcare better. Wednesday's event featured three different panels with a myriad of experts on healthcare including state officials, insurance company executives, policy analysts and academics alike. At the forefront of the event was how the confirmation of the constitutionality of the ACA would affect the insurance industry, state-level Medicaid exchanges, and the political whirlwind surrounding the 2012 election cycle.

Though each panel focused on the very distinct and unique impacts of the health care decision on very different groups within our nation, the crux of the opinions were that more people would be helped than hurt by the health care decision. The panelists conceded that the debate is slowly shifting away from the perception of a burden places on large insurance companies, and has evolved into more of a debate on the merits of states accepting or rejecting the Medicaid provisions of the law. Herein lies the issue; the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate portion of the legislation, and signed off on the regulations placed on insurance companies to provide accessible healthcare, but the Supreme Court ruled that states need not expand their access to Medicaid programs, and allowed the possibility of the rejection of Federal money allocated to expand their programs. Several states including Texas and Florida have already made it quite clear that they will not accept federal funds to expand programs, and as many as 11 other states are considering similar measures.

As the sun sets on another day in Washington, and the debate over the newly constitutional healthcare decision rages on, it is important to realize that the success of the legislation is in the eye of the beholder. Though President Obama's major policy point is in the process of being implemented, it is a major talking point for both red and blue candidates this election cycle. In recent memory there has not been a more polarizing topic in the country than this health care law and the war in the court of public opinion will be debated for at least through the election, if not longer.

To view a webcast of the event, please click here.

#WIPP

 

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