2018 Health Insurance Options: The Choice Is Yours During Open Enrollment

2018 Health Insurance Options: The Choice Is Yours During Open Enrollment

By Jim Armstrong

You know that feeling you get when, halfway through the day, you suddenly realize you forgot to send your kid to school wearing something silly for “crazy hat day”? Or that today was the day you’d promised to send in a gift for teacher appreciation week?

It’s pretty close to impossible to remember every appointment and important date without a reminder. That can be frustrating when you’re talking about the little things – but the consequences can be much worse when it comes to the really important stuff.

We’re coming up on one of those important times right now: the next “Open Enrollment” period to purchase health insurance for 2018. Over the past few years, the federal government has led the charge when it comes to reminding people about Open Enrollment; one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., “Obamacare”) is to make sure everyone knows they have the ability to purchase coverage for themselves and their families.

This year, though, the Trump administration has decided to cut spending on Open Enrollment promotion by 90%.  That means a lot of people won’t get the message that the time to sign up for health insurance in Rhode Island is November 1 – December 31, 2017. For millions of us, this is not a deadline we want to let slip by. (You might also be hearing about a deadline of December 15th, but that’s only for states whose health insurance exchanges are run by the federal government. Rhode Island runs ours, and the state extended our deadline to December 31st.)

There’s a lot of confusion out there, but make no mistake: Obamacare is alive and well.

And, Rhode Islanders who shop on the state’s health insurance exchange (HealthSource RI) are actually quite lucky. Our state’s exchange has a tremendously positive national reputation for offering affordable options. Some states are seeing massive, double-digit rate increases this year; Rhode Island’s rate increases are among the lowest in the country.

Of course, price is only part of the equation. While most of us want low monthly premiums, it’s critically important to consider your annual deductible, too. Choose the plan that fits you, your family, or your small business the best. There are a number of insurance options available on HealthSource RI for all of those plans.

Even though you may end up purchasing your plan via HealthSource RI’s website or phone number, you should definitely get in touch with the insurance company you’re considering. Call their toll-free number. Get familiar with what they have to offer. Their staff will be able to check if your doctors are in their network and if the prescriptions you need will be covered – and they can answer your other questions, too. Purchasing health insurance can be intimidating; you want to be with a company that makes you feel comfortable.

Your conversation might also reveal that you and your family are eligible for significant discounts (in the form of tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies) if you purchase health insurance through HealthSourceRI. For example, a Rhode Island family of four can earn up to $98,400/year AND STILL QUALIFY for a subsidy and an additional tax credit. In other words, health insurance might end up costing you a whole lot less than you think. But you have to ask!

Most important, though: don’t forget that the Open Enrollment period to sign up for health insurance (in Rhode Island) is November 1 – December 31, 2017.

Jim Armstrong works on the communications team at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, trying to tell all the remarkable stories happening inside and outside of their building. He and his wife have two young sons – both of whom are getting their flu shots again this year, no matter how much they complain.

About Neighborhood: Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island is a non-profit HMO that was founded in 1993 in partnership with Rhode Island’s Community Health Centers. Currently serving more than 200,000 members statewide, Neighborhood offers plans for individuals and families who qualify for Medicaid and/or Medicare. Neighborhood also offers commercial plans with comprehensive coverage for individuals, families, and small businesses via HealthSourceRI, the state’s health insurance exchange; Neighborhood serves 55% of the R.I. exchange market.


Doors Open Rhode Island Festival Shares Keys to Providence Treasures

Doors Open Rhode Island Festival Shares Keys to Providence Treasures

Who hasn’t wandered along the streets of Providence and found their attention drawn to a historic building or unexpected detail that a sparks curiosity? What could have been here before? I wonder what lies beyond that hallway? Steeped in rich history and quirky legend, Providence has countless stories to tell; we just need to know where to find them.

On Saturday, September 23, you can do more than peek through windows and wonder. For the very first Doors Open Rhode Island Festival, in partnership with local sites, curious visitors are given free behind-the-scenes access to over 20 fantastic spaces in the city. No tickets or reservations needed. Explore one venue or fill an entire day of adventure, from the recording studios of RI Public Radio to the gilded ceilings of the State House.

Best Bets for Kids

While all locations are open to families, Doors Open RI suggests these sites as ideal for young visitors, with fewer lines anticipated. For up-to-the-minute information about participating locations, follow social media Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • Rhode Island State House (82 Smith Street, 10am – 6pm) – Usually closed on weekends, the State House welcomes kids to explore interesting finds with a scavenger hunt, including the House and Senate chambers and stunning three-story State Library. Still in development to officially unveil later this year, visitors get a first look at Gaspee VR, a fantasy Museum of the Gaspee with virtual objects and artifacts that help tell the story of Rhode Island’s famous attack on a British revenue schooner. The sprawling State House lawn is the perfect spot for a picnic, and parking will be free!

State House Library, photo by Caroline Stevens

  • Ladd Observatory (210 Doyle Avenue, 11am-3pm) – Brown University’s Ladd Observatory, one of the oldest in the country, will offer the chance to check out 19th century cosmos-gazing tools and peer through a solar telescope.

Ladd Observatory, photo by Christian Scully/Design Imaging Studios

  • Stephen Hopkins House (15 Hopkins Street, 10am-9:30pm) – Providence’s oldest surviving house was home to Rhode Island’s own founding father and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house is filled with antiques and family heirlooms and facilitators are well-versed in sharing about its history with families.

Stephen Hopkins House, photo by Francesca Gallo

  • RISD Nature Lab (13 Waterman Street, 10am – 4pm) – A stunning treasure trove of natural curiosities, the Nature Lab opens its doors to the public on this one special day. Kids can see what living and non-living specimens catch their eye and take a closer look through microscopes.

RISD Nature Lab, photo by Matthew Clowney

Learn more about the Family & Development Lab!

Learn more about the Family & Development Lab!

The Family & Development Lab at Providence College—under the direction of Dr. Kelly Warmuth, Assistant Professor of Psychology—is currently recruiting families for a study exploring how family relationships influence child development.

If you choose to participate, you, your spouse or partner, and your child will be asked to visit our lab (151 Sowa Hall on the Providence College campus). Each visit takes about 2–3 hours. You and your spouse or partner will be asked to fill out questionnaires about family relations and participate in a discussion about common disagreements in your relationship. Portions of the visit will be videotaped.

Your child will also be participating! Your child will be given story stems to finish, answer questions about your family, and play games with student researchers. Your child will be given a small toy for participating.

Your family will earn $50 for completing this visit with the potential for another $20 in a year if you agree to fill out some online questionnaires which will allow us to see what has changed for your family. In order to make these visits as easy as possible for your family, we schedule visits 7 days a week, including weeknights and any time on the weekends, and offer complimentary child care during your visit for your other kiddos!

Learn more about us or register your family at famdevlab.com

Providence Community Library Helps Keep Kids Busy with Reading, Games, Free Entertainers & Summer Fun!

Providence Community Library Helps Keep Kids Busy with Reading, Games, Free Entertainers & Summer Fun!

So much happening this summer at Providence Community Library (PCL), which provides daily fun, great books, and special performances at nine neighborhood locations. The Library helps school age students get stamps for their Passports to Summer Learning, learn how to track their activities using Providence READsquared software, complete PCL game cards and earn prizes for reading just 20 minutes every day! Additionally, PCL’s Mobile Library will visit 10 Providence elementary Schools and 10 City-run Recreation Center camps on a regular weekly schedule and offer Ready for Kindergarten workshops for young children preparing to enter school in the fall. Families can access Providence Schools reading lists, eBooks, digital learning resources and stay up-to-date with the full schedule of programs and activities at www.provcomlib.org/summer.

Encouraging a child to read on a daily basis is the single most important thing a family can do for a child over the summer. Why is summer reading so important?

  • Sixty percent of Providence students experience summer reading loss;
  • Learning loss is cumulative over time and lower income children may suffer a chronic cycle compared to their wealthier peers, who are more likely to read over the summer;
  • Teachers typically spend 4-6 weeks in the Fall teaching old skills that have been forgotten due to the “summer slide;”
  • Reading just 20 minutes a day preserves reading skills and often increases them. Sign up for the Summer Reading Program and choose from thousands books and ebooks that can be borrowed from the Library for free!
  • PCL’s Mobile Library will visit elementary schools from July 3 to August 18, thanks to a grant provided United Way of Rhode Island.  The mobile library carries 4,000 popular books for youth readers as well as computers, WiFi access, a sound system, shade tents, tables and chairs, “life-size” board games and educational toys. Math coaches will provide hands-on math activities at each school site.

9:00AM – 12:00PM         Anthony Carnevale School, 50 Springfield Street (02909)*
1:30PM – 4:30PM           Pleasant View School, 50 Obediah Brown Road (02909)
9:00AM – 12:00PM         Harry Kizirian School, 60 Camden Avenue (02908)*
1:30PM – 4:30PM           William D’Abate School, 60 Kossuth Street (02909)
9:00AM – 12:00PM         Feinstein at Sackett, 159 Sackett Street (02907)*
1:30PM – 4:30PM           Frank D. Spaziano School, 85 Laurel Hill Ave./240 Laban St. (02909)
9:00AM – 12:00PM         Young/Woods School, 674 Prairie Avenue (02905)*
1:30PM – 4:30PM           Reservoir Avenue School, 156 Reservoir Avenue (02907)
9:00AM – 12:00PM         Mary Fogarty School, 199 Oxford Street (02905)*
1:30PM – 4:30PM           Leviton Dual Language School, 65 Greenwich Street (02907)
*Ready for Kindergarten sites

Ready for Kindergarten programs for children entering Kindergarten in 2017 or 2018 will consist of weekly, two-hour, morning workshops running over seven weeks under shade tents, offering interactive learning stations, circle time and special story-telling and story acting exercises. Children must be accompanied by parent or caregiver. Contact Cheryl Space cspace@provcomlib.org to register or for more information.

The Mobile Library will provide services to Providence Recreation Day Camps taking place near to the school sites in a partnership with the Healthy Communities Office and Providence Recreation Department. Youth will read and participate in literacy-rich activities every day as part of their camp experience, led by Providence high school and college students who are being hired as part of Providence’s summer youth employment program.

Youth up to age 18 who visit the mobile library, either independently or with their families, will qualify for a free breakfast at the morning school sites (9:00 – 10:00) and a free lunch at the afternoon school sites (1:30 – 2:30) from July 3 to  August 18 as part of the City of Providence’s Summer Meals Program. The Program is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which provides kids and teens in low-income areas with free meals during the long summer recess.

“We are delighted to support the Mayor’s summer learning initiative and work with our partners Providence Schools, the Healthy Communities Office and the Providence Recreation Department to keep Providence children reading and learning throughout the summer.” said PCL Library Director, Jeff Cannell. ”We want to create a love of lifelong learning in the students because that’s the most important thing that the library can do,” he added.

For more information about PCL’s summer learning opportunities, visit www.provcomlib.org/summer.

About the Passport to Summer Learning:
An initiative of Providence Public Library and presenting partners PCL, Mayor Jorge Elorza/City of Providence, and Providence Public Schools, the 2017 Passport to Summer Learning has been distributed to 15,000 students in grades K – 5.  Now in its third year, the Passport to Summer Learning is a collaborative initiative to address summer learning loss and mitigate achievement gaps among children with the least access to community assets and educational resources. For more about the Passport to Summer Learning, visit http://hub.provlib.org/passport/

About the United Way RI Grant:
PCL’s  grant for “Summer Reading in the Schoolyard” was awarded by United Way in 2016 for the 2016-2019 competitive grant cycle, with a focus on funding efforts that help kids fall in love with learning, help adults reach new career goals, and help families meet their basic needs. In total, United Way has awarded $3.1 million in grants among the $12 million it has committed through 2019 to help change the lives of 250,000 Rhode Islanders by 2020, the overarching goal of its new strategic plan, LIVE UNITED 2020.

IMAGES: The PCL Mobile Library; young artists at work in the open air at a mobile library site.

Kidoinfo Play in the Park 2017 Schedule

Kidoinfo Play in the Park 2017 Schedule

Tuesdays (starting July 11) from 3-6pm in Burnside Park, Downtown Providence.
Free fun for all ages.
Kidoinfo is proud partner of Play in the Park teaming up with Jen Smith of Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and company to bring family friendly activities to Burnside Park. There is something new each week!Plus Every Tuesday, from 3 – 6pm, the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, in partnership with FarmFreshRI, is bringing a selection of local farmers and producers to Washington Street for the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Don’t miss you chance to stop by and pick up delicious fresh produce and foods made by local producers.Tuesday, July 11, join us in Burnside Park as we kick off our summer programming.

July 11
playSCIENCE with Miss Katie, fun music + science exploration!

July 18 
Superhero Day! and World Instruments finger painting with Heidi!
Plus, Sidy Maiga hosts an open drum circle from 5-6pm

July 25
Powerful Percussion! Join Miss Katie as we explore all of the sounds we can make on a drum! We’ll play drums big and small, and experiment with making our own shakers. We’ll test our ears and see if we can guess what’s inside Miss Katie’s Rainbow Egg Shakers. Take your shaker home and see if anyone can guess what’s inside!

August 1
Ocean fun finger painting with Heidi!

August 8
HONK! Festival Ballet Providence brings to life the delightful story of a swan who wants to be a ballerina for the Play In The Park on August 8th.  Hear the telling of HONK: The Story of a Prima Swanerina written by Pamela Duncan Edwards.  A ballerina from FBP will be there to perform an expert from the ballet Swan Lake.  FBP Director of Community Engagement will teach the children a swan dance and assist them in creating a swan craft.

August 15 
Superhero Day!
Plus, Sidy Maiga hosts an open drum circle from 5-6pm

August 22
Providence Children’s Film Festival Animation Workshop

Looking forward to seeing you in the park on Tuesday, July 11!

Kidoinfo Storytime + Art in the Park 2017 Schedule

Kidoinfo Storytime + Art in the Park 2017 Schedule

Thursdays (July 13 – August 17) from 10:30am – 12:30pm in Burnside Park, Downtown Providence.

Each summer Kidoinfo teams up with Jen Smith of Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and company to bring Storytime + Art in the Park to Burnside Park. Through this program, DDPC and Kidoinfo invite local authors, storytellers and illustrators to bring their love of books and storytelling to the children of Providence. At this free event, parents and kids sit together under a tree, in front of the Banjotti Fountain, at the city’s only open air Storytime.

This year we have six different guests lined up to bring stories to life in their own unique way.

KidoInfo Storytime happens first on Thursdays from 10:30 – 11:30, followed by Art in the Park from 11:30 – 12:30. Stay for lunch from one of the food trucks, and enjoy a picnic under the tree.

Mark your calendars, here is the 2017 Storytime schedule of storytellers:

July 13
Storyteller Valerie Tutson draws her stories from around the world with an emphasis on African traditions.
At Art in the Park The Wonky World of Roald Dahl explores Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Ever wanted to make your own Wonka bars? Me too! This week we’ll be making our own pretend chocolate bars. There may even be a few golden tickets somewhere…

July 20
Local author Kara LaReau debuted her brand new chapter book, The Infamous Ratso, at Storytime last year. This year she’ll be sharing some of her own books, and her kidlit favorites with the audience. In addition to Kara – we welcome Miss Katie for a sing-along, dance-along, musical performance! Our regulars may recognize Miss Katie from of playSCIENCE RI, but she can also be found out of a lab coat, wearing giant sunglasses, and playing a wide variety of instruments, often in the company of the Extraordinary Rendition Band. She’s traveled around RI performing and will be debuting songs from her new CD Candy Cane Glasses!
At Art in the Park The Wonky World of Roald Dahl explores Matilda. In the book, Matilda could make things move with her mind. Together, we can make things move with our crafty hands. Let’s make books that float!

July 27
Art in the Park cofounder author and illustrator Alison Paul joins us again this summer with local illustrator Jen Corace. Long time readers at Storytime, Jen and Alison will read a selection of their own books.
At Art in the Park The Wonky World of Roald Dahl explores Fantastic Mr. Fox. Oh no! Mr. Fox lost his tail escaping the mean old farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean! Can you help make him a new one? Maybe you can make it even better than his old one!

August 3
Internationally acclaimed RI Storyteller Len Cabral retells African, Cape Verdean, and Caribbean folktales as well as original stories + tales from around the world.
At Art in the Park The Wonky World of Roald Dahl explores The BFG. We can collect dreams just like the BFG with our very own Dream Jars! What kind of dreams will you collect? Some dreams will be included and others you’ll have to find! Fill up your jars with dreams.

August 10
The Ricky Rainbow Beard Show kicks off Storytime and is joined by intergalactic creature troupe Big Nazo joins us. A group of visual artists, puppeteers, and musicians, Big Nazo makes their way across Kennedy Plaza and get kids singing and dancing. It’s always a fun day in the park with Big Nazo invades!
At Art in the Park The Wonky World of Roald Dahl explores James and the Giant Peach. How big would your GIANT peach be? Let’s make some peaches that are as big as our heads, or maybe even bigger!

August 17
Keith Munslow, hilarious musician, cartoonist, storyteller will once again join us in the park. Keith always has kids and parents singing, dancing and laughing.
At Art in the Park Sail Away Summer!  A super special day of activities in the park including The Wonky World of Roald Dahl Finale: Sail Away Summer! Join artist Alison Paul making ship’s captain hats with Roald Dahl storybook pages inspired by the Matilda quote: “So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Following Storytime, local artists bring books to life at Art in the Park. Each week Ricky Katowicz or Alison Paul will bring an iconic children’s book author to life through hands on art projects. This year’s theme is: The Wonky World of Roald Dahl! Many readers will know Roald Dahl for his classic books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. With so many inspiring books to choose from, this promises to be an extra creative summer.

These events are always FREE and everyone is welcome. Let us know you’re coming on the FB events!

Follow Kidoinfo and DDPC on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay up to date on all our summer programming.