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Health insurance workshop offered

Tips available on choosing a plan

November 12, 2013

DALLAS — Health care reform may have given people more choices when it comes to buying health insurance. While more options may be a good thing, it does make decisions more complicated.

You are not alone if you are intimidated by the thought of sorting through available plans in an attempt to make the right choice.

In response to what research shows is a widespread anxiety following sweeping health care reform, Polk County OSU Extension is hosting a Smart Choice Health Insurance workshop on Monday.

Debra Minar Driscoll, an Oregon State University professor and Extension service faculty member who will lead the workshop, said it's the complexity of health care decisions that makes it so intimidating.

"I think sometimes people will stay with one plan because it is what they are comfortable with, and that is fine," Driscoll said. "But if they want to explore options at a lower cost, it's always good to have a mechanism for doing that."

When shopping on newly created exchanges or trying to select a Medicare supplement plan, people need to evaluate them based on their current and future needs — including how many doctor visits are likely and what prescriptions they may need, she said.

"People are trying to keep their costs down and also get the coverage for their specific situation," she said.

The workshop, designed by a team of insurance experts, takes people through the process step by step, starting with an assessment of their needs and then doing a plan comparison.

"We will also be looking at a monthly spending plan to see what they can afford to help decide which insurance plan to go with," Driscoll said.

She added picking the correct plan is about more than physical health, but also financial health.

"One of the main reasons for filing for bankruptcy is medical expenses," she said.

Driscoll said the workshop will touch briefly on Oregon's health care exchange, Cover Oregon, and where people can get assistance to apply. But the majority of the time will be spent on learning how to pick the best plan.

She said the workshop is limited to 15 people, but if there is enough interest, more will be scheduled.