ISU Extension Workshops Offer 'Smart Choice' On Health Insurance

ISU Extension Workshops Offer 'Smart Choice' On Health Insurance

ISU Extension workshops are being held across Iowa to help people make informed decisions on health insurance.

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.

DON'T BE OVERWHELMED: With many options and decisions to be made about health insurance, it can be confusing. Iowa State University Extension 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.

"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.

Upcoming Workshops

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

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