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September 2013

Last modified 2013-10-03 18:33

Washington State’s Health Insurance Marketplace Opens October 1: Affordable and Tailored Health Care Through Washington Healthplanfinder

It’s been three and a half years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. There have already been many accomplishments in our state, and the time has nearly come for one of the key features of the health care law to take effect. It’s called The Health Insurance Marketplace. The Affordable Care Act creates new coverage options by expanding Medicaid and creating health insurance marketplaces that offer Qualified Health Plans (QHPs). The law includes several programs that help low- and moderate-income people purchase health insurance coverage. Together, they are known as insurance affordability programs.

Each state’s marketplace works a little different. Our marketplace is called Washington Healthplanfinder. Washington Healthplanfinder is a new way for individuals, families, and businesses to easily find, compare, and buy healthcare insurance online starting October 1, 2013. The first enrollment period ends March 31, 2014. Enrollment will be available again starting October 1, 2014.

Washington Healthplanfinder can help provide coverage to the 15 percent of Washington State residents who don’t have health insurance. According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, that’s one million people. Washington Healthplanfinder will:

  • For the first time, allow people to see health insurance plans side-by-side online so they can compare price, benefits, convenience, quality, providers, and other factors before buying.
  • Only sell state-certified health plans by insurance companies who have met strict criteria to participate in the Marketplace. Health plans in the Marketplace will generally offer lower-cost premiums and deductibles than plans not offered in the Marketplace. All health plans also have to offer the same set of essential health benefits.
  • Lower the cost of premiums for most people; even more through tax credits. For example, tax credits will be available to a single person making up to $45,960 per year and a family of four making up to $94,200 per year. There is a quick cost-estimate calculator to give people an idea how much their premium and tax credit will be.
  • Let low-income people know if they qualify for free or low-cost coverage from Medicaid or the Child Health Insurance Program.  For example, a family of four making less than $32,500 can qualify for free health coverage.
  • Not be the only place people can buy health insurance.

-People can still buy health insurance from companies who are outside the Marketplace.

-People will not have to give up the health insurance provided by their employer.

-People who are not happy with their current health insurance or want more affordable care can also switch to a health insurance plan offered through the Marketplace.

  • People can get their health coverage questions answered by phone, email, or in person.

By phone
The call center is open and can be reached at 1-855-923-4633. There is Spanish-speaking call center staff. Staff also have access to a language line that provides help in 175 languages

By email
Washington residents can email questions to

In person
More information will be coming soon about “in-person assistors” that will be available to help people enroll in communities throughout the state.

For more information and helpful resources, please view the:


Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT): Assessing and Aligning Your Curriculum with the National Health Education Standards

To help children live healthier lives, we give them information and skills in school that evidence shows to be effective in adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors. But how do we know if the health education curricula we’re using, developing, or buying follow current evidence-based recommendations?

The Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) is a new assessment tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that guides schools and school districts in determining this. HECAT guides curriculum developers in assessing and scoring health education curriculum in ten areas:

  • Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Safety
  • Healthy Eating
  • Sexual Health
  • Mental and Emotional Health
  • Tobacco
  • Personal Health and Wellness
  • Violence Prevention
  • Physical Activity
  • Comprehensive Health Education

HECAT is based on the Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum and scores curricula based on the number of performance indicators it addresses within the National Health Education Standards.   Because the National Health Education Standards provide different knowledge and skill expectations by grade group (pre-K–2; 3–5; 6–8; 9–12), HECAT measures curricula in these grade groups differently.

HECAT provides tools that help:

  • Clarify what should be included in a health education curriculum.
  • Review, revise, and improve your health education curricula.
  • Choose commercially-developed curricula that are evidence based.
  • Ensure that your curriculum is aligned with the National Health Education Standards and the Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum.
  • Analyze and improve teaching materials, instructional strategies, and assessment of student learning.
  • Assess affordability and feasibility of implementing curricula.
  • Provide justification for curriculum decisions to parents, school board members, and other interested people.

Agencies that have piloted HECAT report that it takes around 4 to 16 hours to complete the analysis per curriculum. To learn in person how to use the tool, there is an HECAT workshop available by request. Direct questions about HECAT to the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health at or 1-800-CDC-INFO.


The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) Bullying and Harassment Toolkit

In 2010, the State of Washington passed a law that prohibits harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) in schools. As a result, there has been a lot of work around planning and monitoring bullying prevention and interventions. However, even with stronger efforts, too many youth still experience bullying. On average, almost three out of ten students surveyed in the 2012 Healthy Youth Survey reported being bullied in the previous month at school.

  • 30 percent of 6th graders
  • 31 percent of 8th graders
  • 25 percent of 10th graders
  • 18 percent of 12th graders

OSPI recently put together a Bullying and Harassment Toolkit for districts, schools, students, and families. It provides background information on HIB issues, consequences of HIB, and best-practice interventions.

The toolkit has many resources, including:

  1. Definitions of harassment, intimidation and bullying, along with a chart that differentiates between them.
  2. Tools to assess the experiences of bullies, bystanders, and youth who are both bullies and bystanders.
  3. Cyber bullying, digital, and internet safety information.
  4. Guidelines for investigations, incidence reporting, and follow-up support for victims.
  5. The state model anti-bullying policy and procedures.
  6. District by district HIB Compliance Officer contact information.
  7. Program and intervention planning, including a planning template and best practices checklist. 
  8. Training materials and example curriculums.
  9. Resources for parents and families.

The start of the school year is a good time to evaluate HIB prevention efforts. Please see OSPI’s Bullying and Harassment Toolkit for more information: You can also contact the Program Supervisor for the School Safety Center directly at


Obesity Prevention Programs for Rural Communities

Rural areas in the United States have higher rates of obesity than urban areas. There are many factors that contribute to this. These can include:

  • The built environment—like lack of street lighting and sidewalks.
  • The natural environment—like harsh weather.
  • Access barriers—due to dependence on driving.
  • Larger number of older and low-income people.

Contributing factors vary from community to community. The key to a successful obesity prevention program is making sure that the strategies used are appropriate for the community. The Rural Obesity Prevention Toolkit walks you through all you need to consider. It can help you map out the needs and assets of your community, develop interventions, and plan for evaluation. The toolkit also includes examples of successful programs. You can access the toolkit through the Rural Assistance Center’s website:


A High School Physical Education and Health Teacher Empowers Girls to Make Healthy a Habit

 doris dorr

About five years ago, Mrs. Doris Dorr was sitting on the sidelines of a track meet at Toppenish High School. She noticed a young girl sitting next to her who seemed a little sad. After some light conversation, the girl told her about how all of her friends were out on the field, but that she was too fat to participate. She went on to share how she had been made fun of because of her weight, which hurt both socially and emotionally.

Even though Mrs. Dorr was recovering from a knee surgery at the time, she set out to help this girl. She offered to start a workout routine with her, and promised to teach her how to eat healthy. She told the girl she could invite some other friends too for encouragement.

About 20 girls, all weighing upwards of 280 pounds, showed up for the first day of the program. Sixteen of them were willing to make the two hour per day exercise commitment that Mrs. Dorr was asking for, and they started. Mrs. Dorr incorporated health and nutrition education into the program, provided the girls notebooks for diet tracking, and even set up a buddy system so the girls always had someone they could call if they were struggling.

To begin, the workouts started after-hours in hidden areas of the school. Kids involved in athletics used the gym area, and the girls were too embarrassed to be seen exercising around them. However, one day, the captain of the football team saw them using the bikes. He walked by many times before stopping to say something. He was impressed by how long they were able to bike—the girls were at least 30 minutes into a ride, whereas the football team could only last 10 minutes! Word spread throughout the school about how strong and committed these girls were. This shift made the girls feel comfortable using the gym area, and motivated others to come forward and ask for help.

There are many reasons why Mrs. Dorr’s program is so successful. She works out and sweats with the girls, and shares the fact that her health and fitness is something she works at every day. She acknowledges that each of these girls is unique, and is starting from a different place. “It’s not about who you are or where you start; it’s where you end,” says Mrs. Dorr. And at the end of the first year, all of the girls ended up at least 70 pounds lighter.

Most importantly, Mrs. Dorr has made her program about much more than just exercise. She knows that obesity is not just a physical disease but has social and emotional implications as well. There are many factors that influence these girls’ weights, including: personal traumatic experiences, financial barriers to afford healthier options, lack of safe neighborhoods for walking, lack of family support to lose weight, and competing cultural values. This program provides these girls a safe space to work through some of the factors that lead them to unhealthy eating, and help them create trusting and supportive relationships with one another.

It is no surprise that Mrs. Dorr received the Unsung Hero for Youth Award from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education in 2011. She believes that everyone can play a part in this work by serving as a support for youth and being a role model; and she clearly leads by example. As Mrs. Dorr starts her 37th year of teaching and 6th year of this program, she has the goal of getting more staff involved in the afternoon workouts. To date, her work with these girls has been the most rewarding part of her career.

For more information on Mrs. Dorr’s program or working with youth, please contact her directly at:


H.E.R.E. is Taking Nominations for Colleagues to Spotlight!

Every newsletter, we spotlight a colleague in the field who is making important contributions to public health. Do you know someone who has made an impact in public health? Nominate him or her for the Colleague Spotlight by clicking here!


So Many Ways to Spread the Word about Childhood Obesity

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and we all have a role in addressing this important issue. What is yours? Regardless of your line of work, we can all make an effort this month. From something as small as sending out a “tweet” on your personal account, to something greater like holding a community event, the September 2013 Toolkit from the National Health Information Center makes it easy for you to play your part. The toolkit includes:

  • Sample newsletter articles.
  • Pre-written tweets.
  • E-cards.
  • A free web badge.
  • Personal health tools.
  • Tips to plan a National Health Observance event.

For more information, please see the toolkit:


The Art of Urban Agriculture is in the Planning

The concept of urban agriculture has been surfacing a lot recently. The first view that comes to mind is a few small pots with tomato plants and herbs, sitting on an apartment building balcony. However, even in the most urban of places, there is the space for agriculture, community gardens, and urban farms. ChangeLabSolutions has put together a guide, A Guide to Growing Food on Public Property, to help you explore and plan for the possibilities of using public land to grow food in your community.

The guide includes:

  • Information on key partners and stakeholders that you will need to work with.
  • Sites to consider for urban farming.
  • Sample agreements between urban agriculture groups and public entities.
  • Stories of successful urban agriculture programs.
  • Information on working with schools.
  • Gardening resources.

Growing food on public land can yield many health, environmental, financial, and social benefits to communities. Please see the full guide for more information and resources to help planning urban agriculture programs in your community:


CDC Clear Communication Index: Assessing Your Materials and Messages for Clarity and Understanding

We all want to write clear and understandable health messages for our audience. But what are the most important elements our communications should have to achieve this? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently created an easy to use resource that addresses this.

The CDC Clear Communication Index is a tool that helps you develop and assess communication products. It helps you assess your communication in seven main areas that research shows to be most effective in improving clarity and understanding:

  • Main message and call to action
  • Behavioral recommendations
  • Language
  • Numbers
  • Information design
  • Risk
  • State of the science


The Clear Communication Index has a score sheet and a user guide. The score sheet is a 20-question checklist that grades your communication on a scale of 100. Ninety is passing. The user guide explains the 20 specific assessment questions in more detail and gives examples of how to address each one.

The Clear Communication Index complies with the Plain Writing Act of 2010 and works to achieve goals set out in the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and the CDC Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Learn more about the Clear Communication Index by watching a free recently archived webinar about it.


Material Spotlight: Immunization Manual for Schools, Preschools, and Child Care Centers

It’s that time of the year when students are back in their desks at school, preschoolers are learning their ABC’s, and the pitter-patter of little footsteps has gotten a little louder in our child care centers. With the return of the kids, so too comes the increased need for schools, preschools, and child care centers to meet their responsibilities around vaccinations.

The Immunization Manual for Schools, Preschools, and Child Care Centers is a reference guide for staff members who serve on the immunization frontline. It’s not just helpful when school starts back up, but throughout the entire year. The manual provides information and tools that help schools, preschools, and child care center staff:

  • Understand Washington State immunization requirements for children attending school, preschool, and child care.
  • Work successfully with parents, school administrators, and healthcare providers regarding immunization regulations.
  • Answer questions about the immunizations a child needs for school, preschool, and child care.
  • Prepare the required school and child care Annual Immunization Status Reports.
  • Report communicable diseases at your school, preschool, or child care to local public health officials.
  • Understand vaccine-preventable diseases, their causes and symptoms, and how they spread.
  • Find immunization resources.

Help share this resource with schools and child care centers in your area by forwarding it to them. For more information or questions about this publication, call or email Trang Kuss in the Office of Immunization and Child Profile at or 360-236-3760.


Top 10 Downloaded Materials on the Health Education Resource Exchange (H.E.R.E.)

Below are the 10 most downloaded materials on the H.E.R.E. website in the last two months. Check each issue to see which educational messaging people are seeking the most.

 1. Feeding Your 3 to 5 Year Old 3,406
 2. Living with MRSA 2,980
 3. Feeding Your 1 to 2 Year Old 2,641
 4. Nutrition Interventions for Children with Special Health Care Needs 2,194
 5. Feeding Your baby 6 to 12 Months 1,806
 6. Washington State School-based Sealant and Fluoride Varnish Program  Guidelines 1,469
 7. Bug Bombs: Overkill Can Be Dangerous 1,360
 8. Autism Guidebook 760
 9. Research Review: School-Based Health Interventions and Academic Achievement738
 10. Bold and Beautiful Book of Bean Recipes562


New Upcoming Trainings

Below are upcoming events that have been added to the H.E.R.E. website since the last newsletter was released. Visit the Training & Events page to view more trainings by month, as well as free online trainings that are available. To promote your own health education or health promotion related training, visit the new Submit a Training page.


Nominate a Colleague to Spotlight in the Newsletter

Do you know someone who has made an impact in public health? Nominate them for the Colleague Spotlight article.