FEBRUARY 5 - Public fears about the new Health Insurance Marketplace are now being answered by larger numbers of successful enrollments, according to data released last month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS says 2.2 million people nationwide - including more than 75,000 in Michigan alone - enrolled and selected insurance plans through the Marketplace website, www.HealthCare.gov, by the end of 2013.
Northern Michigan residents like Dawn Kodatt, 51, of Gaylord, found enrollment assistance through Certified Application Counselors and Navigators in the area. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan and District Health Department No. 4 both offer enrollment assistance through the Enroll Northern Michigan initiative, helping people to understand their own personal and family needs, find subsidies and tax credits, and use the Marketplace to make informed decisions about health coverage.
Kodatt said the Health Department of Northwest Michigan helped her get enrolled so she could purchase affordable health insurance for herself and her family - none of whom were insured until now.
"I was very intimidated by it all," recalls Kodatt. "It seemed so complicated, with so many questions and options. And I had no computer knowledge." She explained that she came to the Health Department looking for information on MIChild/Healthy Kids insurance for her son, and that's when she learned the agency offered Marketplace enrollment assistance. She made her appointment the same day.
"They were so patient and helpful," she said. "They gave me a complete list of what I needed to bring with me to the appointment. They explained everything and made me feel very comfortable. I never would have done it by myself." Kodatt's advice to anyone who may still be leery: "Don't be intimidated. The Health Department can walk you right through it. I'm telling all my friends and family."
Assistance is also available through some local health care agencies and area insurance agents, many of whom are becoming trained as Certified Application Counselors. For a list of health care agencies and clinics offering assistance, visit www.nwhealth.org or call the Health Department of Northwest Michigan at (800) 432-4121. You can also text "INFOMI" to 69866 from your cell phone for more information or to find local assistance.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties. Call (800) 432-4121 for more information or to schedule an appointment.