Bertha Bartlett Public Library news

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Kolleen Taylor

This past weekend we held a program on Health Insurance presented by the Iowa State Extension. With so much attention on the healthcare act, this program was designed to help everyone understand how to evaluate, compare, and determine healthcare insurance needs. Regardless of your opinion of the new healthcare laws, the workshop information was helpful, practical and important, especially for those who have never had to analyze insurance programs.

As one who has had to do this on a number of occasions, I sat through the workshop thinking I would learn nothing new. But I was wrong, and realized this was an extremely helpful and practical workshop, even if one had no need to use the new Marketplace Exchange.

Libraries are sited as locations where individuals can go to sign up for the new healthcare programs, so I have been bombarded with information, with training opportunities on a number of levels, sessions at state meetings, and emails and websites pushing us to help inform the public. But we have also been cautioned that ultimately, we can only direct, we cannot assist a patron once they are logged into a computer.

So we are very hopeful that those who can provide personal assistance start getting their information out into the community. Medical facilities such as hospitals are cited as natural locations, in addition to insurance professionals but finding neutral assistance is still challenging. The website we are asked to use to refer people who need assistance, does not currently list anyone in Story City or Ames at this time, however, we understand there are people trained that are just not listed.

By the time you read this, there will have been 4 workshops held in Story County, with the next one set for Monday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Colo Public Library. Since we are all concerned about the impact this program will have on us, and because we have already had questions, I made several calls since the workshop to try to identify individuals we can easily access to assist those who need help signing up for this program. Hopefully by the end of the week, we will have a list available for those who need assistance.

One important piece of information not clear in the advertising is that if you are already on Medicare or qualify for Medicare, the healthcare marketplace doesn’t impact you. If you pay for a supplement, there will be no changes in the costs, nor any tax rebates, so this problem doesn’t directly affect you.

At this point, I can only assure people who want or need to use the Marketplace to be patient and do as much pre-planning as possible. The workshops offered by ISU Extension provide excellent tools to help individuals evaluate their current healthcare use, and analyze both insurance and out-of-pocket costs. If you have time for a workshop, they will help you walk through the math with some examples, so you can study this for your own family needs. And remember, our local insurance agents will be happy to talk to you, explain their plans and assist you. The library always has computers available, and many books for financial research, and healthcare issues, so don’t hesitate to use us to learn more.