Acupuncture is the practice of inserting very thin metal needles into the skin to stimulate points on the body.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare or the ACA, is a law intended to reform the health care system and make health insurance more affordable. The law has gone into effect in stages. For example, a provision that requires insurance to fully cover preventive services (like cancer screenings) was implemented in 2010, while the part of the law that stops insurance companies from denying people health insurance because of pre-existing conditions takes effect in 2014.
Say you've already got health insurance. How does Affordable Care Act affect you? Well, there are a couple of ways:
If you already have health insurance, you don't need to do anything new or different, unless your insurance company says so. Be sure to read about the preventive services that are now fully covered by your plan, regardless of whether you have a deductible, co-insurance or co-pays.
If you buy the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) through the University of Washington, you should expect to find very little changed. However, SHIP is subject to the same requirements as other health insurance policies, and therefore now fully covers preventive services like birth control and immunizations. You can read about your benefits under SHIP here.
Please note that SHIP will no longer be offered starting Fall Quarter of 2015. Click here for more information.
Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require everyone to purchase a health insurance plan, just like the government requires people who own a car to buy car insurance. Fortunately, if you're a typical college student without much income, there are subsidies available to lower the cost of private insurance. If you are low-income, you might be eligible for public insurance, also known as Medicaid, for which you would not need to pay. As you apply for the insurance through an online exchange, you will be prompted to enter income and demographic information. The system will determine your eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies based on this information.
If you are an uninsured resident of Washington State, you may have two options:
Curious as to how much you might be looking at paying for your health insurance? Here's a special calculator that estimates your monthly payment for health insurance (though keep in mind that you might be eligible for Medicaid if you earn less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level).
If you enrolling in private insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, there are presently only three plans that are contracted with Hall Health Center and other parts of UW Medicine. They are:
If you find that you qualify for Medicaid (aka Washington Apple Health or DSHS), please be aware that we are contracted with these three plans:
If you enroll in one of these plans, you can receive care, including mental health services, at Hall Health Center. We are not contracted with Community Health Plan of Washington and United Health Care Community Health or have limited services that we are able to provide.
Depending on where you're from, your home state may or may not have its own health insurance exchange (a website set up to facilitate finding and purchasing a health insurance plan). You can use the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace to get routed to your state's exchange. If your state does not operate an exchange, you can use the federal government's version to buy your plan.
Similarly, your state may not have opted to expand Medicaid eligibility. Read more here about the Medicaid expansion.
There are other elements of the Affordable Care Act that may affect you:
Check out this cartoon-style infographic on what the Affordable Care Act means for young people.
The federal government's HealthCare.gov website offers lots of resources to help you make sense of the Affordable Care Act.
Washington State's Health Plan Finder is where you'll purchase health insurance if you need to buy an individual (i.e., not employer- or parent-sponsored) plan and are a Washington resident.
If you're not a Washington State resident, the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace can help you purchase a plan.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Administration staff, January 2014
Hall Health Center has a number of different clinics, each of which is staffed by a variety of medical providers. These providers, also known as clinicians, have different types of medical degrees.
You may not have considered it, but every time you read health information, from food labels to medical forms, you're exercising your health literacy skills.
Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand health information needed to make informed health decisions. Health literacy affects your ability to:
Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are health care therapies that are not used by practitioners of conventional (Western) medicine. These remedies are sometimes excluded from standard practice due to lack of evidence.
There are several broad categories that CAM fall into. Some can be in more than one of these categories.
Healing systems are both practice and theories to heal the body. These focus on a way of life. Some are based on traditional practices of individual cultures.
The core belief of this philosophy is that when your mind and body are in harmony, you will have better health. Some of these are accepted as standard treatments. Examples of mind and body treatments include:
This includes natural and biological products to promote health. These typically include herbal treatments, special diets, and individual biological treatment.
Important points to consider about biological CAM treatments:
Practitioners promote healing through manipulation and movement of the body.
Practitioners of energy healing believe there are energies that flow in the body or external energy fields. Illness may occur when the body's energy is blocked or out of balance. Each variety of energy therapy has a unique set of beliefs about how to correct this energy.
Before beginning any new therapy, it is important to be well-informed. This is especially important with complementary and alternative medicines. Little is known about many of these treatments, and some can cause adverse side effects.
Most insurance companies cover some of these services, such as acupuncture or visits with a certified naturopath (ND). To find out for sure, you will need to contact your insurance company. Depending on the treatment there may be a minimum number of sessions required to fully benefit from the therapy.
Like any health care practitioner, complementary and alternative medical practitioners should have certification and licenses. Make sure the practitioner you are considering has the proper training. Selecting a CAM provider.
Office of Dietary Supplements (National Institute of Health)
CAM on Pubmed research database (National institute of Health)
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines (National Institute of Health)
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Medline Plus National institute for Health)
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Video List (National Institute of Health, Senior Health)
HerbMed (Alternation Medicine Foundation)
Complementary and Alternative Medicine updates (Journal of the American Medical Association)
Authored by: Hall Health Center Health Promotion staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Primary Care Clinic staff (MC), February 2014