Education is key before signing up for new health care

Learning how to navigate system, comparing health plans should be focus right now

DETROIT – At St. John Health Conner Creek Village on Tuesday -- one of many pre-employment workshops going on in Metro Detroit -- a coalition of organizations including St. John's Hospital, Detroit Wayne County Health Authority and Michuhcan joined with feet on the ground and experts to teach, piece-by-piece, how the new affordable care plan works.

The event started with a group prayer.

The doors opened to people who had been waiting.

"Trying to find out exactly how this health insurance plan works," said Diane Schroeter.

The days of American citizens using emergency rooms as a physician's office are on their way out. The so-called Obamacare health options mean if you can afford to pay for health insurance, you must. If you can't, the government will help you but you must have coverage, and that means people who have never ever had health insurance are learning a brand new language.

"Now we're working to see that people understand the benefits of the Affordable Care Act," said Marjorie Mitchell, of Michuhcan. "You can either utilize the services of a navigator or an assistor."

People from all walks of life were at St. John Conner Creek Village on Tuesday. Brenda Klugh had insurance but lost it when she lost her job last year.

"Everybody needs insurance and it's a blessing for us to be here to even sign up for insurance," Klugh said.

Her granddaughter is 18 years old. She works full time for minimum wage but benefits are not included.

Joi Mitchell has insurance but wants to know if she can find more affordable insurance in the new government marketplace.

"I'm a single woman. I am paying out of pocket right now for my insurance. My premium just went up. Co-pay just went up. So I am just trying to figure out what's the best option for me," she said.

Incidentally, experts say Tuesday, Wednesday and next week are not the time to enroll. This is the time to learn the system and make comparisons, then you can sign up.

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