ACA Open Enrollment is Here!

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans officially opened November 1st and people  have until December 15th to enroll in one of the marketplace plans. This year, because of changes made to budget and politics in Congress, the open enrollment period is much shorter than it has been in past years. At the same time, the budget for advertising to let people know that open enrollment has started has been decreased. We encourage our community members to check as soon as possible if they qualify for a plan through ACA. Contrary to what many people think, and despite the efforts of certain members of Congress the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will continue to exist, and provide services to people through 2018. While an ACA plan might not be the best option for everyone in our community it is still important to know about the resources that are available. Many people may qualify for financial assistance to help offset the costs of health insurance premiums. Below we have gathered some resources that can help you learn more about and sign up for ACA marketplace plans.   

This link will help you determine if you are eligible for savings through ACA. After answering a few questions about yourself you can learn if you are eligible for a premium saving and then look at how that will affect the cost of plans. Keep in mind that the ACA website is being scheduled for maintenance every Sunday during open enrollment (except December 10th) from 12:00am -12:00pm and may not be available during those times.

Austin Specific Resources

Foundation Communities– will help people navigate the process of signing up for an ACA market plan. They have two locations around Austin and are open all year long to help people navigate the process of health insurance through ACA. No appointment is necessary during November or December. You can email at enroll@fondcom.org or visit the two locations below:

5900 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

Phone: 737-717-4001 (local Austin #)

2600 W Stassney, Austin, TX 78745

Phone: 737-717-4000 (local Austin #)

Community Care is also helping people navigate the process of signing up for an ACA Marketplace plan.  They have many different locations all over Austin which are all open at various times, and they can often meet with you the same day when you call to make an appointment. To schedule an appointment call 512-978-9015 and choose the eligibility option from the menu. The call center to schedule an appointment is open from 7:00am – 7:00pm.

Healthcare.gov – has a feature where you enter your zip code and will let you see all the organizations and people around that are able to assist you in signing up for a plan.

Access to health insurance is important, especially to QPOC who are disproportionately affected by health and safety needs. The Affordable Care Act requires many insurers to provide certain preventive care health services for free. Click here to see all the Preventative Medical Services available at no cost to adults who have an ACA health care plan, click here for services specific to women’s health, and here for services specific to children’s health. Remember that these services are required under the ACA to be covered by your ACA insurance plans at no cost to you. To read more about why Preventative care is important to QPOC click here

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Self Care & QPOC Students

Academia can be a very complicated thing for many people, but especially for QPOC. The influx of new knowledge and ideas can help grow and shape communities. Unfortunately, QPOC students can often feel that their needs are not being met, or that they are being asked to deny certain parts of themselves in order to succeed. Often many of these institutions can replicate and emulate systems of oppression through their policies, and structures. That is why many marginalized communities came together to create spaces, in forms such as HBCUs and Women’s Colleges and Universities, where we can expand our knowledge but leave behind many oppressive policies and structures.

It can be easy for QPOC in academia to begin to determine their worth based on how well they are able to exist in, achieve, and meet the demands of these spaces. They are often expected to give all of themselves, while forsaking self-care, family and friends, and community in order to achieve. It is important to remember that our worth, our value, and the light and power within us is not determined by how much of ourselves we give up; that we can succeed, and even thrive in these spaces without having to wear ourselves out. Not existing in these spaces as oppressors expect us to is not a sign of weakness or fault, it is a sign of power — even our presence in many of these spaces is revolutionary.

So, in order to support QPOC students in our communities maintain the light and power within them during the time they spend in academia, we have gathered this list of resources. This is not by any means an exhaustive list. It is a starting point and a place for us to begin to think critically about QPOC self-care in academia.

Don’t Hurt Yourself: A Survival Guide for Graduate Students of Color in Their First Year.

This article by Shaunda Brown talks about the needs of graduate students of color and some ways to practice self-care during a time where many people, especially POC, feel as though there is not the time, energy, or ability to look after your personal well-being.

Self-care List: How to take care of yourself while learning about oppression (with unaware people)

This list by Fabian Romero has shown up in our blog before. It’s a great resource to learn about some ways to practice self-care when you are around people with little-to-no world analysis.

Self-care Tips for Radical Social Media Users

While this list by Dom Chatterjee is not specifically about students, it does offer some pretty great ideas around social media. At a time where study groups, professors, and classmates use Facebook and other social media sites to stay in contact and share class information, it can be difficult to try to disconnect from the internet. While the internet can be a place of recuperative care for some, it can also be a place of violence and trauma for QPOC. It’s important that we be able to participate within these spaces while practicing self-care and minimizing the amount of violence you experience online.

Saving Your Grades from a Mental Health Crisis

This post is not specifically about POC, but can help some people know where to start when experiencing a mental health crisis and worried about trying to maintain their grades.

This is not an exhaustive list. It’s important to recognize that your self-care and wellbeing are important. Let’s make time to allow ourselves to heal from the spaces we occupy.

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Dealing With Allergies

It’s almost that time of year again, where the leaves begin to change color, the weather gets colder, and where fall allergies come back to haunt us. Some people spend all year waiting and wishing for this time of year, while others look to this time of year with displeasure. I think we can all agree that allergies are not fun. They can give you headaches, stuffy noses, and make it difficult to breathe, which can complicate existing conditions. Studies have shown that POC are not only at higher risk for having conditions that lead to difficult breathing such as asthma and COPD, but that those chances are increasing. It’s important to know how we might reduce the effects allergies have on us so that we do not complicate existing conditions and so that we can live more comfortably.

Here are some things you can do this season to help reduce the effect these allergens have on you. These things can be done year-round to help with other seasonal allergies as well.

Know what you are allergic to:

The first place to start is to know what allergies are affecting you. Some allergens are seasonal, some are year round. It’s a good idea to know what is in the air and what you are sensitive to. Of course, there are always outliers, but a quick breakdown looks something like this: trees tend to be spring, grasses in the summer, weeds in the fall, and mold is pretty much all year. But as leaves fall and decompose, the amount of mold in the air increases. Other year-round allergies can be caused by dust mites, pets, and bugs.

By knowing what you are allergic to, we can better focus on what might help alleviate your symptoms. First, recognize when you are experiencing the worst allergies. Then, you can check local news sources to see what allergens are particularly high at that time or if there is a new allergen in the air.

Bed, clothes, and pets:

Change your pillowcase and your bedsheets often! Many places recommend that you change your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week. And if you are someone with particularly strong allergies it might be a good idea to change your pillowcase more often than that, depending on what allergens are around. Think of your bed and pillow as large sponges that hold onto the things they come into contact with. It might be worthwhile to get a pillow cover that will go between your pillow and pillowcase to keep your pillow from absorbing as much while you sleep. If possible don’t hang bedsheets and pillowcases outside to dry where they will be covered in allergens.

Take off clothes you wore outside and, if possible, rinse your body or shower before laying in bed. This will help remove some of the allergens off your skin and ensure that you are not transferring those allergens onto your bed from your clothes and body.

As much as we may love sleeping next to our fur friends, their fur is like an allergen magnet. If we take our pets outside and they run around, then come in and jump on the bed, they are covering your bed in not just allergens, but all types of things they might have picked up outside. It may not be possible or recommended to wash your pets too often, but it might be a good idea to give your pet a quick brushing after coming home from being outside, just to knock off all the things that might be stuck in their fur. By keeping our beds as allergen-free as possible, we allow our bodies to take better advantage of the time we are asleep or resting.

Food:

It is important when we are talking about allergies that we also talk about food. There are some foods that can increase your bodies response to allergens such as processed sugar, dairy products, gluten, and trans fats/partially hydrogenated oils. Many people think that if they are not feeling discomfort after eating these items then that means that they do not have an allergy or reaction to these foods. But often times these foods can cause slight inflammation within the body, that can be exacerbated and be attributed to other allergens. It may be a good idea when trying to look at reducing symptoms of allergies to also look into the types of foods that you are eating.

There are some foods that might help with relieving allergies.

Local honey and bee pollen can help your body build up immunities and may reduce your reaction to local allergens. You can use honey as a sweetener, and bee pollen can be added to smoothies or shakes. Be aware that if you have severe allergies, eating honey and bee pollen can cause you to have an allergic reaction. Also, people who are pregnant, or breastfeeding, should not consume bee pollen, and children under the age of 1 should not be given honey. It is best to check with your local healer or health care provider beforehand and to begin with a small amount first.

Peppers, onions, and garlic can help you open the sinuses and provide some relief from symptoms. Garlic and peppers especially have been shown to assist in relieving symptoms of allergies. And foods high in Vitamin C, such as peppers, pineapple, and kiwi, can help your body to better deal with allergies.

These are just a few things that we can do to help alleviate some allergies. Hopefully, these things will help you! Do you have any suggestions about how to help with allergies? Let us know! To read more content like this, and to hear about what we are doing follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.