AARP AARP States Michigan

MSU Extension offers 'Smart Choice for Health Insurance'

Andy Farmer 2013

The best story I ever heard about Michigan State University Extension was about its very beginning, a hundred years ago, when Extension agents travelled the countryside getting farmers to adopt electricity. Who knew that’d be a tough sell? Farmers back then did, of course, but imagine how their lives, their descendants’ lives, our dinner plates and our country have since been transformed by that simple adoption.

Well, MSU Extension is at it again. In 80 counties across Michigan, it is offering consumers a chance to adopt something potentially just as revolutionary as electricity: the ability to become their own expert shoppers, evaluators and users for health insurance. Their two-hour workshop or online webinar program is called, “Smart Choice for Health Insurance” and topics include:

  • Translating health insurance language into plain English.
  • Breaking down the different types of health insurance plans on the markets.
  • Understanding what “in-network” and out of network services are.
  • Nailing the price differences between the types and their trade-offs in non-covered “out of pocket” charges.
  • Evaluating your existing household spending on health services, medications and supplies.
  • Constructing an overall household budget which not only reveals what your current spending priorities may have been, but possibly reveals where room might exist within your means to not only afford health insurance coverage, but where that might take its proper priority within household spending objectives moving forward.
  • Maybe even discover how gaining affordable health coverage frees up some of your money for other needs?

Options for finding affordable healthcare coverage have never been greater, so this is a great opportunity to get “tooled up” to access the greatest possible advantages in cost and quality of coverage not only in the existing health coverage market, but especially in the new Health Insurance Marketplace brought to Michigan under the Affordable Care Act.

      We at AARP Michigan have been working across the state the last few years bringing education about the Affordable Care Act to nearly every community. We have also made a wealth of information about that law available online at . “Smart Choice” seminars perfectly complement AARP’s efforts, because where AARP has been shedding light about new options for healthcare coverage, MSU Extension’s “Smart Choice” sessions teach how to “wire” your own household budget so you can turn on the right coverage for your life and for those who may depend on you.

      So go to for details on “Smart Choice” workshops, online webinars and more Affordable Care Act information. If you’re interested in AARP Affordable Care Act information, give me a call at (517) 267-8921.


Andrew Farmer 

 AARP Michigan  Associate State Director for Health & Supportive Services

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