Need health insurance? Yakima organization helps with open enrollment applications

Less than a month remains in the open enrollment period to apply to receive healthcare through Washington Healthplanfinder and a local organization is working to make sure people don’t miss out.

Yakima Neighborhood Health Services is offering free help to people interested in applying for health insurance in Yakima County, where nearly 25,000 people are uninsured, according to health officials.

Open enrollment — which is scheduled to end Dec. 15 — applies to people who don’t receive insurance through their employer or don’t meet the requirements for programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“[During that period], there is no one we cannot help in some way,” Communications Manager Leah Ward said.

Ward says this year’s a good time to enroll, with rates down about three percent from last year. She says some people believe that they just can’t afford insurance, no matter what.

“That’s a judgement they shouldn’t be making until they come in and we help them put pencil to paper,” Ward said.

Lorenza Orozco assists people with insurance issues at YHNS. She says her most gratifying moments come when she’s able to help get coverage for people with cancer, a life-threatening illness or other pre-existing condition.

Assistance at the enrollment center is free, confidential and includes cultural, linguistic, and disability support for customers with special needs.

Both YHNS locations — 610 E. Yakima Ave. in Yakima and 617 Scoon Rd. in Sunnyside — provide enrollment assistance. Ward said kids are welcome at the enrollment center.

The centers are open 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Appointments can be made by calling 509-853-2377. Prior to coming to an appointment, Ward says it’s helpful to have the following:

Your income from the previous month
Names of the people applying for coverage or who are being claimed on your tax return
Birth dates of the people applying for coverage
Social Security numbers of the people applying for coverage
Your 2018 tax return
Expected annual household income for 2019
Proof of lawful presence in the U.S.