Empowering Others to Learn about Health Insurance - No Matter What Age

Co-pays, co-insurance, premiums, and deductibles – terms we are sure you have heard before, but do you know what they mean and why how they impact your healthcare decisions?

When it comes to health insurance, it’s never too early to get yourself familiar with the lingo and variety of plan options. Even if you’re on your parent’s health insurance until 26 years old, the more you learn early on the more you improve your health literacy skills to better understand complex healthcare systems and make those important healthcare decisions.

Recent Portage High School graduates, Kelsey Blankenheim and Trina Miller know all too well about this as the two recently teamed up to create a formal presentation about health insurance for their health careers class. Blankenheim and Miller took the initiative to speak in front of their peers at Portage High School and employees at Divine Savior Healthcare about the importance of understanding health insurance, no matter what age. This initiative was supported and co-directed by Nancy Ziegler who teaches the Health Science Occupations courses at Portage High School.

Blankenheim and Miller stress in their presentations, that according to the American Medical Association Foundation, “individuals with low health literacy have an average annual healthcare cost of $13,000, compared to only $3,000 for those with high literacy levels.” This $10,000 healthcare savings says a lot about the advantages of being able to comprehend health insurance.

Blankenheim and Miller wrapped up their presentations this month with a Lunch and Learn for employees at Divine Savior Healthcare. From the pre and post-surveys collected throughout the presentations they stated, “We realized the success in the presentation when we looked at the post-surveys and noticed that the questions people got incorrect on the pre-survey they corrected on the post-survey. This assured us the information we were presenting our audience retained.”

The presentations the students are doing are part of a larger initiative started by the Portage Health Literacy Committee (PHLC), whose mission is to improve healthcare communication for better understanding and overall better health throughout the community. The committee is working towards addressing health literacy concerns in the community and launching a community based project to bring awareness on health insurance—understanding its importance and how to use it in the healthcare system.

PHLC is a collaboration of Divine Savior Healthcare, the Portage Community School District, and the South Central WI-AHEC (Area Health Education Center). The committee has been in collaboration since January of 2016 and has held a student workshop educating on health insurance literacy, collected surveys on the community’s understanding of health insurance, and formalized presentations to educate youth at Portage High School and employees at Divine Savior Healthcare.

Blankenheim shared, “I really recommend this great learning opportunity to all health seeking career students. It is one great project I can put on my resume all throughout college and could potentially be a unique topic on my resume to make me stand out.”

The goal for PHLC is to continue efforts with new student groups presenting and creating new ways to educate the community on health insurance and navigating the healthcare system. If you’re interested in learning more about PHLC’s efforts, please contact PHLC Committee Chairperson, Caitlyn Mowatt at cmowatt@dshealthcare.com or (608) 745-5996. 

Photo Caption: 2017 Portage High School Graduates, Kelsey Blankenheim (left) and Trina Miller (right) discuss the importance of understanding health insurance, no matter what age.

Portage Health Literacy Committee members:
Divine Savior Employees— Kari Due, Linda Krueger, Sue Lynch, Brandie McReath, Caitlyn Mowatt, Hannah Reitzner
Portage High School—Nancy Ziegler
South Central WI-AHEC (Area Health Education Center)—Wendy Hinz

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