No health insurance? Workshop helps navigate coverage

As deadlines to enroll in a health insurance plan through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace get closer, the Bartholomew County Purdue Extension office is stepping up to guide residents through the process.

Extension office educator Harriet Armstrong and navigator Leah Boaz will lead local residents through a Dec. 1 seminar about the Health Insurance Marketplace at the Bartholomew County Public Library.

Enrolling in a health insurance plan is particularly important this year, Armstrong said, because residents without insurance in 2016 will have to pay a 2.5 percent penalty on their total household income, or the national average premium of the Marketplace’s Bronze plan. Households will have to pay whichever fee is higher.

The free information session is based around the “Smart Choices Health Insurance” workshop program developed by the University of Maryland Extension.

At the workshop, Armstrong and Boaz will lead participants through a Smart Choices case study, which will highlight the different insurance options available in the Marketplace, Armstrong said.

“This is a program that helps them understand the terms, and one of the biggest questions is, ‘How does that relate to what I’m wanting?,’” she said.

Participants will also receive a Smart Choices workbook, which they can take home and work through on their own time to select the best health insurance plan for their needs, Armstrong said.

People with additional questions after the workshop can make an appointment with Boaz to receive one-on-one help.

Residents must enroll in a health-insurance plan by:

Dec. 15 for coverage to begin on Jan. 1.

Jan. 15 for coverage to start on Feb. 1

Jan. 31 for coverage to start on March 1.

If you go

“Smart Choice” Health Insurance

What: Workshop is designed for people using the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

When: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 1

Where: Bartholomew County Public Library Red Room, 536 Fifth St., Columbus

Who: Led by Harriet Armstrong, Purdue Extension Bartholomew County educator, and insurance navigator Leah Boaz.

Cost: Free, but registration is requested.

To register: Visit or call 812-379-1272.

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.