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What is Open Enrollment?

This time of year, there may be a lot of information, emails, news blasts, and media coverage regarding open enrollment.  Open enrollment is a time when individuals can sign up for new health insurance coverage or renew existing coverage.  Changes to policies may also be made, including adding or removing a family member.  The amount and type of coverage someone may want can also be modified.  Nonetheless, the open enrollment period may vary slightly depending on the type of coverage someone is seeking. Medicare open enrollment period is from October 15 to December 7 . During this time, individuals can change their Medicare coverage and prescription drug coverage.  At this point, if there are changes in their plans' annual coverage, Medicare participants should have been notified.  These changes may be listed in an Annual Notice of Coverage (ANOC) or an Evidence of Coverage (EOC). Individuals with questions may call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit Medicaid and Children

Who the Hungry Really Are

According to the US Department of Agriculture, hunger is defined as "...a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation." Further, food security was defined ranging from high to very low food security.   Very low food security exists when there are multiple disruptions of eating patterns without food intake because of lack of available resources to obtain food. It should be noted that low food security exists when low variety exists.  This was formerly known as food insecurity without hunger. For example, a family unable to afford groceries or running out of groceries by the end of the week may have very low food security.  Families who may need to eat the same low budget meal repeatedly may have low food security. However, they are able to provide some type of nourishment. Low food security or very low food security is not a def

The Importance of Mental Health Parity

The first step in addressing the issue of mental health parity is to create awareness about issues that actually do happen. So many times in our society, we like to pretend something didn't happen, we like to say it isn't real, we like to live in our glass houses and say there is something wrong with the person complaining rather than addressing the real issue. That is why it is so important to educate others . Educating others provides them with more knowledge and information and may help them to change their beliefs. Many may have misconceptions or may be unaware of issues that happen every day around them. Why Should We Care About Mental Health Parity? Mental illness not only affects the individual with mental illness; it affects family, friends, neighbors, schools, classmates, and the community at large. Not only is the indvidual affected by mental illness, but everyone around them is affected as well. Issues arise when someone receives improper care for a men

Public Health and Public Housing

Following a discussion with some fellow community members, wondering whether or not a housing division was Section 8 or public housing, I decided to do some research on the subject. Having never used either public housing or Section 8 housing as an adult, I was only somewhat familiar with the criteria and how it worked. What is Public Housing? Public housing is a program designed for individuals of very low income.  Eligibility amounts are determined from state to state.  In Missouri, the very low-income limit for a household of three is $27,150, low income is $43,400, and 30% of the median is $18,100.  In the Kansas City metro, 30% median is $19,700.  That is, all sources of income for the home may not exceed $19,700 in that area for someone to qualify for low-income public housing.  For example, a retail employee who earns $9 per hour and works full time with two children in the home and who also receives $500 a month for child support would have an available income of $24,72

Remembering 9/11: Taking Action Where You Live

On 9/11, many of us reminisce about where we were on that fateful day 15 years ago. I was in my car, driving to my internship at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and I had just started my second year of graduate school. As I sat in my little Pontiac, I could hardly believe what I was hearing. The first tower had been hit by an airplane.  That must have been a mistake.  Maybe it wasn't real. Then, as I parked my car, and arrived to my office, I heard the sounds of radios and televisions playing the tragedy out. People in the office were frantically calling their friends and loved ones in New York, wondering, hoping, and praying they were not at the Twin Towers that day. Later that day, I was walking to class past the now destructed old College of Public Health  building. New construction plans were in progress, and a pile of rubble lay in front of the building.  As I walked by, I thought to myself, this is a small scale of what those in New York City are walking by tod

What is Public Health?

Public health can be found in many aspects of your daily life. When you first wake up in the morning, you may use the bathroom. You flush the toilet and use your city's sanitation system. Sanitation is a public health accomplishment. When you finish using the bathroom, you wash your hands. You do this because you were educated to do so through public health education efforts. Those efforts taught you that washing your hands after using the bathroom helps to reduce the spread of disease. Then, you brush your teeth. The water you use may be fluoridated, as well as your toothpaste, another public health effort. As your pull your milk out of the refrigerator, you notice that it is has a "use by" date on it. That is another public health guideline to keep your food fresh and safe. While eating your breakfast, you sit and read the food label on the box. The food label is another public health effort that lets consumers know what is in their food. After breakfast, you get

The Story Behind SNAP Benefits (aka Food Stamps)

Several years ago, I was involved in a food distribution program. The program was a cooperative program between the church I attended, an elementary school, and a local food shortage distribution organization. During the time I volunteered with this program, I discovered that several misconceptions exist about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) and eligibility criteria.  Many of the individuals who worked with the program had never received SNAP benefits, myself and my household included, so they were unaware of some of the issues associated with SNAP benefits. History Behind Food Stamps Food stamps got their start during the Great Depression.  The program was initially established in 1933 to distribute excess food supply from farmers to hunger relief programs. In 1939, the Food Stamps Plan, as it was called, was created under the New Deal.  Low income individuals would purchase food stamps to purchase food and other necessary household items. At the end of World