Health Insurance Options, Now That the Federal Enrollment Period is Over
Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 19, 2017
If you had wanted to sign up for health insurance but missed the enrollment period for the federal exchange, you may still have options to get coverage at HealthCare.gov. If you’ve experienced a qualifying life event or any number of specific conditions, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. But your first step should be to double check that your state doesn’t have a state health exchange with an enrollment period extended beyond the federal exchange.
Residents of many states no longer have access to an open enrollment; either their state never set up a health insurance exchange, requiring their residents to purchase insurance on the federal exchange, or their enrollment period has ended. Note that while the states listed below have extended enrollment periods, coverage may not begin until after February 1st. Check your state’s website for details on the coverage period, and to enroll:
• California: January 31 https://www.coveredca.com
• Colorado: January 12 http://connectforhealthco.com
• District of Columbia: January 31 https://dchealthlink.com
• Massachusetts: January 23 https://www.mahealthconnector.org
• Minnesota: January 15 https://www.mnsure.org
• New York: January 31 https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov
• Rhode Island: December 31 https://healthsourceri.com
• Washington: January 15 https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org
Residents of the remaining 42 states may be eligible to sign up for coverage under a Special Enrollment Period if they’ve experienced any of a number of life changes:
• Gotten married
• Had a baby, adopted, or placed a child in foster care
• Lost insurance through divorce or legal separation
• Lost insurance through death of a family member
• Moved to a new zip code, county, or state, or moved to the US
• Moved to attend school or to follow seasonal work, or from a shelter
• Lost a job which provided health insurance
• Lost health coverage from a plan purchased independently
• Became ineligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
• Turned 26 and became ineligible to be covered on a parent’s health plan
There are additional “complex issues” which can be taken into consideration when evaluating whether you are eligible for coverage under a Special Enrollment Period. These include: unexpected hospitalizations or temporary disability, technical errors at the HealthCare.gov website that prevented enrollment from going through properly, receiving incorrect information on HealthCare.gov when you selected your plan, and experiencing spousal abuse or abandonment. If you apply for consideration in a Special Enrollment Period and are denied, you can appeal the decision.
The Guild conducted a free webinar on the ACA and its options in mid-November. However, it’s been a rocky Fall for those wanting to sign up for health insurance. The repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, let alone provisions in the proposed tax legislation, have made predicting insurance options and rates for 2018 extremely difficult. Our own free webinar on signing up for the ACA had to be revised the day before the webinar, and even then was outstripped by political developments in the previous 24 hours.
Below: Although the enrollment period at HealthCare.gov is over, you may still qualify for coverage.
Fake Flash Player Targets Apple Users and WP Engine Clients
Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 05, 2017
Fake Flash Player updates which mask malware have been around since MySpace was hot; Adobe was warning the public not to download the Flash Player from sources outside their download site back in 2008. But despite the publicity, the malware-installing fake downloads persist. Currently, a fake Flash Player scam is targeting visitors and users of the popular WordPress hosting platform WP Engine by taking advantage a common typo of the company URL.
If a webdesigner or WPEngine client accidentally inserts an hyphen (“wp-engine”) into the URL of their development site on WP Engine, they are immediately taken to a page with a pop-up screen warning them that their Flash Player is outdated. The screen apes legitimate warnings that appear when Flash Player truly is outdated. If the user clicks onto the update button, rather than being taken to the official Adobe Flash Player download page, they’ve initiated the installation of the malware onto their computers. To confuse users who suspect something is amiss, the installer also downloads a genuine version of the Flash installer.
The irony is that WPEngine is rated one of the most secure web hosts for WordPress websites, and takes great pride in their robust security settings. (WP Engine customers needn't be concerned that the webhost has been compromised. The website is never accessed, since the malware redirects from the incorrect URL pulled up from the typo.)
The particular brand of malware installed is appropriately named scareware. The infected computer is overrun with pop-up ads warning of an infection and prompting the user to install malware masquerading as anti-virus software. Going into the Applications folder and deleting the fake Flash download appears to solve the problem. However, once the computer restarts, the pop-up screens appear again, and the fake Flash installer reappears in the downloads folder. Doing a reinstall of the browser prevents subsequent appearances of the pop-up windows, but the malware will reside in the system until an antivirus program such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is run.
The Intego Mac Security Blog ran a comprehensive article on fake Flash update scareware last year. According to Graham Cluley of Intego, the scareware manipulates the computer users fear of infected computers to trick them into downloading the fake Flash Player. Johannes Ullrich of SANS Institute reported that the scareware installer took advantage of a valid Apple developer certificate. That permitted the malware to bypass recent OS X defenses which permit only programs downloaded from the official App store or identified developers to be downloaded. (Ullrich pulled together an informative video which shows what happened when he downloaded the fake Flash player.)
Downloading the Flash Player from only the official Adobe website is common sense, and websites which ask users to legitimately update their version of Flash will direct users to this page. The fake Flash Player download continues to be used by scammers. This February, Intego reported that a fake Flash Player is being used to install a sloppy new malware, “MadDownloader.” MacDownloader attempts to steal the users keychain information – passwords, usernames, PINs, etc. – by tricking the user into believing adware software needs to be removed from their system. Although the malware was so poorly designed as to pose little risk, chances are the developers will release an updated version. If a user suspects their version of Flash may be updated, they should check the status via their Systems Preferences or, better yet, permit Adobe to automatically update the program.
As for WP Engine customers: just be sure to not include a hyphen in the domain when you're typing in the URL for your development platform. If you forget,and that persistent “Flash Player outdated" screen appears, simply quit out of your browser. If. you haven't downloaded anything, chances are you’re fine. (You can always run your anti-malware software just to be sure.)
If you accidentally type “wp-engine” into your address bar, you’re taken to a deceptively official-looking Flash update screen.. Note the URL is dllmacfiles, not the Adobe Flash download site. The intercept is quite aggressive; a persistent popover window prompts you to install the fake Adobe Flash Player. The fake download screen even includes reassuring verbiage telling you that dllmac is distributing an “install manager.”
If you click “cancel,” a popover window asks you if you’re sure you want to leave the page. Clicking "Leave Page” averts any problems.
International Women’s Day Yields Treasure Troves of Work by Women
Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 13, 2017
Perhaps because of the increased coverage of women’s issues (and the political movements spearheaded by women), International Women’s Day was marked by a number of blogs and websites with comprehensive reviews of work by women visual artists: designers, illustrators, cartoonists, and others. Three in particular stood out: the UK media platform It’s Nice That, the publication Creative Review (also out of the UK), and the Cartoonist Alliance.
It’s Nice That introduced their offering with a splash. An exuberant illustration by artist Kate Prior (upraised fists hoisting an IWD banner) festoons the top of the page. The illustration celebrates the act of protest, and references the suffragette movement. Below, It’s Nice That showcases 18 articles they solicited from women contributors: illustrators, photographers, designers, and artists. There is even an article on Deep Throat Choir, a group of 35 all-female singers that transforms the work of well-known artists such as Bjork into multi-layered, intricate interpretations. The collection of articles doesn’t shy away from controversial topics. For example, in response to the fetishization of her compatriots, Brazilian photographer June Canedo asserts, “Women of colour need to be the ones photographing other women of colour.” In another article, Muslim American artist Amna Asghar asks “What if Warhol were Pakastani?,” exploring her own identity through a series of montages of popular culture images and brightly painted panels.
Rather than soliciting articles specifically for IWD 2017, Creative Review chose to curate a collection of articles that have appeared in the publication throughout the years. Dedicated readers will recognize some past gems, such as “Women + Laughing + Alone + With Salad,” a delicious take-down of cheesy microstock photography from 2011. The curated articles cover a range of topics, from typography (sexist emoji), to fashion (older women appearing in fashion ads) to workplace and leadership (retaining working mothers in the creative industries). Creative Review has also curated a selection of Works, projects submitted to the publication for review. One favorite is Woman Interrupted, an app created by Brazilian firm BETC, which monitors the user’s conversation and calculates how often the she is interrupted by a man’s voice.
The Cartoonist Alliance article was originally published in 2015 and promoted for IWD2018. “What’s The Best Comic About Women By Women?” is less comprehensive than the previous posts, and covers only seven women graphic novelists selected by CA staff as their favorites. Having said that, the collection is interesting and somewhat surprising. While Marjane Sartrapi’s Persepolis has a well-deserved place on the list, Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi was unexpected. The article makes a good case for the addition though: “Sailor Moon was the game changer, the comic that effectively launched the magical girl genre. Sailor Moon isn’t just the reason why I’m here; it’s the reason why you’re here.” The only quibble with CA’s article is that it predates Errin Ferris’ tour-de-force, My Favorite Thing is Monsters (an aching story beautifully illustrated in ball-point-pen) wasn’t included.
But there’s always next year. We’ll be stalking these three websites to see what they conjure up for IWD 2018.
Free Art Licensing Q&A with J’net Smith, December 14
Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 29, 2016
J’net Smith of All Art Licensing is running her free Q&A on art licensing on December 14th. The session is open to designers, illustrators, cartoonists, and surface designers. Registrants can submit their questions in advance, and Smith typically covers 15-25 questions in each session. Because of the popularity of the sessions, participants are encouraged to register early to get their questions in the queue. Participants will also receive a free copy of Smith’s ebook, 20 Rules for Starting Your Art Licensing Business.
J’net Smith has contributed frequently to Guild resources. Most recently, she conducted a Guild webinar, “The New Art Licensing: Beyond the Basics,” which was well received this fall. She also extends a discount to Guild members on her licensing products and services. Currently, that discount is 25% off on all products and services, available for Guild members only through December 31st.
Update on Freelance Isn’t Free: NYC Mayor Signs Bill into Law
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on November 18, 2016
In a bright ending to a tough year, Mayor Bill DiBlasio of New York City signed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act into law on November 16. The law is the first of its kind in the nation, providing legal recourse for freelancers to pursue clients for non-payment. The law requires that employers supply freelancers with a contract for projects with a value greater than $800, and pay freelancers within 30 days of the submission of an invoice. The law also prohibits clients from extending an offer of payment lower than the agreed-upon fee. The law will go into effect in May of 2017.
The Freelancers Union is advocating to bring the law to other cities. Freelancers and their supporters are invited to sign the Union’s petition to bring the act nationwide. The Guild is a proud supporter of the Freelance Isn't Free initiative.Next Page
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