With the opening of the federal Health Insurance Marketplace this month, many Iowans are taking an active interest in their health insurance options. However, as they consider essential benefits, additional coverage and pre-existing conditions, they may feel overwhelmed by the choices.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering workshops to build Iowans' health insurance literacy so they can make informed decisions and choose a health insurance policy that meets their needs. Smart Choice Health Insurance workshops are being offered throughout Iowa. Contact any ISU Extension and Outreach county office for details.
"Smart Choice is a health insurance literacy curriculum. It is research and theory-based and consumer tested," says Suzanne Bartholomae, an ISU Extension family financial management specialist. ISU Extension is providing this research-based education program to help consumers understand health insurance concepts and terms, evaluate their own health insurance needs, examine insurance plans and select a plan that fits their needs and budget.
With the changing U.S. health insurance system, many Iowans have more health insurance options for 2014 than they've had in the past
Various organizations and agencies have been addressing concerns about the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, but the ISU Extension and Outreach workshops are different. "Our Smart Choice workshops will not be an avenue for enrolling consumers in health insurance or for providing one-on-one advice about health insurance. Navigators and other consumer assistors play this role," Bartholomae explains. "We address the Affordable Care Act in Smart Choice, and we will be supplementing it with tax credit and cost subsidy information, but it is not the focus of our workshops," Bartholomae says.
Smart Choice is applicable to both current health insurance consumers and those who are newly eligible through the Affordable Care Act.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
With the changing U.S. health insurance system, many Iowans have more health insurance options for 2014 than they had in the past, says Barb Wollan, one of the ISU Extension family finance specialists who are teaching the Smart Choice classes.
Health insurance is an important part of family financial security; the new marketplace makes it easier to compare your options
People with pre-existing health problems now cannot be denied or charged more for coverage, Wollan notes. People who couldn't afford insurance now will have access to cost breaks, perhaps even for insurance with no premium. In addition, the new marketplace makes it easier to compare health insurance options.
As a family finance specialist, Wollan has long recommended health insurance as an important part of financial security. "Insurance may help cover 'normal' medical expenses, such as your annual check-up, or treatment for your child's ear infection, but that's not the reason it is important. Those expenses aren't cheap, but many people can cover the costs without insurance," Wollan says.
The real benefit of insurance comes when someone has a serious health problem, whether it's a broken bone, or a serious illness or massive injuries in an accident. Most people can't manage that type of cost on their own, Wollan notes.
"These major health events don't happen to everyone every year, thankfully. But something major probably will happen at some point, and we never know when that might be. That's why health insurance is recommended — you pay a moderate amount in premiums every year to prevent financial disaster whenever the major health expenses come along," Wollan says.
Options in the new health insurance marketplace
In the changing world of health insurance, understanding your options enables you to make the best choice for your situation. This free two-hour workshop offers: core information about health insurance, tools you can use in making your own decisions, and a chance to compare hypothetical policies. It also will introduce you to the new Health Insurance Marketplace, how it works and how to reduce your costs for health insurance and health care.
Take advantage of a local opportunity to gain information and resources that will help you make a smart choice! Contact your local Extension and Outreach office for details.
October 21, 1:00-3:00 p.m. - Marshalltown Public Library
October 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m. - Marshalltown Public Library~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
October 23, 5:00-7:00 p.m. - Ottumwa Library
October 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Mary Greeley Medical Center, Ames
October 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Eagle Grove Memorial Library
October 26, 10:00 a.m.-noon - Toledo Public Library
October 28, 2:00-4:00 p.m. - Cling Memorial Public Library, Grundy Center
October 28, 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Dike Public Library
October 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Montgomery Memorial Library, Jewell
October 29, 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Worth County Extension, Northwood
October 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Pioneer Heritage Public Library, 204 N Vine St, LeGrand
October 31, 4:00-6:00 p.m. - Franklin County Extension, Hampton
October 31, 7:00-9:00 p.m. - Humboldt County Memorial Hospital, Humboldt
November 2, 10:00 a.m.-noon - Bertha Bartlett Public Library, Story City
November 4, 4:30-6:30 p.m. - Algona Public Library
November 5, 1:00-3:00 p.m. - City Hall, Ames
November 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Story County Extension, Nevada
November 6, 10:00 a.m.–noon - Mercy, North Campus, Conference. Room B/C, Clinton
November 6, 4:00-6:00 p.m. - Albion Public Library, 400 So. Main St, Albion
November 6, 6:00–8:00 p.m. - Mercy, North Campus, Conference. Room B/C, Clinton
November 7, noon-2:00 p.m. - Webster County Extension, Fort Dodge
November 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Callender Community Center, Callendar
November 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m. - Robert Barlow Memorial Library, Iowa Falls
November 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Eldora Public Library, Eldora
November 13, 10 a.m.–noon - Mercy, South Campus Conference Room, Clinton
November 13, 6:00–8:00 p.m. - Mercy, South Campus Conference Room, Clinton
November 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Clarion Public Library, Clarion
November 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Traer Public Library, Traer
November 18, 6;00-8:00 p.m. - Butler County Extension, Allison
November 18, 6:00-8:00 p.m. - Ericson Library, Boone
November 19, 7:00-9:00 p.m. - Belmond Public Library, Belmond
November 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Tama Civic Center, Tama
November 25, 2:30-4:30 p.m. - Cerro Gordo County Extension, Mason City
November 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m. - Cerro Gordo County Extension, Mason City
November 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Ackley Public Library, Ackley
December 5, 2:00-4:00 p.m. - Forest City Public Library
December 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. - Mason City Public Library
December 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Webster County Extension, Fort Dodge
December 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Colo Public Library, Colo
January 13, 2014, Time to be determined - Kanawha Library