Extension program to help sort through insurance choices

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall is the season for health insurance plan enrollment. You may be like most people -- confused and uncomfortable, when it comes to making decisions about health insurance coverage.

Do you know that health insurance helps individuals and families get access to care leading to better health and reduces the risk of high health care costs?

That's why a team of experts from across the nation, led by the University of Maryland Extension, developed Smart Choice Health Insurance workshops. These workshops and materials are research-based to give people tools to make a smart health insurance decision for themselves and their families. In 2014, the program received a national community education award.

People who attended these workshops left confident they could make a smart health insurance purchase decision. They learned key health insurance terms; how to estimate costs for health care and what questions to ask; and how to find information to choose a health plan.

"Smart Choice is not about pushing you to select any one specific plan," says Bonnie Braun, co-leader of the team of University of Maryland and Delaware extension experts that developed Smart Choice. "It will help you gain a set of skills so you can choose a plan that best fits your family's needs."

Locally, a Smart Choice Workshop will be offered 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Putnam County Fairgrounds, 191 N. U.S. 231, Greencastle.

To register for the free workshop, persons may contact Purdue Extension/Putnam County at 653-8411 or by emailing Cannon16@purdue.edu.

The workshop is limited to 12-15 participants, so persons are urged to contact the office by Friday, Nov. 6.

"As the local Extension educator," Health and Human Sciences Educator Jennifer Cannon said, "I'm pleased to offer this workshop here in Putnam County. I know people in our community want to make smart choices about their health and finances. This workshop can help them do just that. "

Consumer workbooks are available in both Spanish and English. The Spanish materials should be requested in advance.

"Keeping your head above water can be extremely difficult when navigating the waters of health insurance -- whether you've been insured throughout your life or are faced with selecting coverage for the very first time," Cannon added. "Smart Choice acts like a life vest, it empowers you by eliminating the intimidation factor, explaining the steps in the process and ultimately showing you how to find the best fit for your needs."

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