Extension Workshops Help Iowans Answer Health Insurance Questions

Smart Choice Health InsuranceAMES, Iowa – Iowans who have applied for health insurance through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace but have not received written confirmation on the status of their application should make a follow-up phone call, suggests Barb Wollan, a family finance specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“If you haven’t received the results of your application, such as your eligibility for tax credit and what plans you can choose from, then call the marketplace at 800-318-2596. You’ll have the option of enrolling over the phone, or you can use the information you receive from the call and log into the marketplace so you can compare plans before enrolling,” Wollan said.

Those who enroll in the Marketplace by Dec. 23 can get health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Open enrollment closes March 31.

Iowans who want to better understand their health insurance options may participate in Smart Choice Health Insurance workshops from ISU Extension and Outreach. Wollan and other ISU Extension and Outreach family finance specialists are teaching the workshops throughout the state. ISU Extension and Outreach is offering the free workshops to build Iowans’ health insurance literacy so they can make informed decisions and choose a health insurance policy that meets their needs. Contact any ISU Extension and Outreach county office  for details.

“Smart Choice Health Insurance is a curriculum that addresses both health insurance literacy and consumer rights and responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act. An early look at the data collected from workshops shows that we have been able to reduce confusion and increase confidence in Iowa consumers’ health insurance decisions,” said Suzanne Bartholomae, an ISU Extension and Outreach family financial management specialist.

ISU Extension and Outreach is providing research-based education 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.

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 are not 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 explained.

“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 said.

Smart Choice is applicable to both current health insurance consumers and those who are newly eligible through the Affordable Care Act, she noted.