The Nebraska Department of Insurance is holding a series of informal public meetings across the state to gather input from Nebraskans regarding the establishment and structuring of a new state health insurance "exchange." The meetings will be held in Gering, Kearney, Nebraska City, Omaha and South Sioux City and will provide rural Nebraskans a unique opportunity to weigh-in on how the marketplace for their health insurance plans will be structured in the future.



"An exchange is a new marketplace for health insurance that provides buyers and consumers, the opportunity to compare health insurance plans and buy the type of plan that best meets their needs," explained Virginia Wolking, Rural Policy Organizer for the Center for Rural Affairs.


The Nebraska Department of Insurance is holding a series of informal public meetings across the state to gather input from Nebraskans regarding the establishment and structuring of a new state health insurance "exchange." The meetings will be held in Gering, Kearney, Nebraska City, Omaha and South Sioux City and will provide rural Nebraskans a unique opportunity to weigh-in on how the marketplace for their health insurance plans will be structured in the future.

"An exchange is a new marketplace for health insurance that provides buyers and consumers, the opportunity to compare health insurance plans and buy the type of plan that best meets their needs," explained Virginia Wolking, Rural Policy Organizer for the Center for Rural Affairs.

According to Wolking, the Nebraska Department of Insurance has the authority to create a health insurance exchange or marketplace for Nebraskans.  The Center for Rural Affairs is encouraging rural Nebraskans to speak up at these upcoming meetings to ensure that the Exchange is designed in a way that meets their needs and the unique challenges faced by their rural communities.

The Center also believes that proper outreach on the health insurance exchanges is key to getting rural Nebraskans signed up and participating.  To make the exchange accessible to those who stand to benefit from it the most, sign-up must be available off-line.  "The elderly, rural poor and those without Internet access should be able to find information and sign up for the exchange off-line and with assistance from people who are familiar with the exchange," added Wolking.

"The Nebraska Department of Insurance can help put knowledgeable people on on the ground to spread the word about the exchange by using third party 'navigators.'  These navigators could be non-profit organizations, churches, community groups or insurance agents," said Wolking. "It’s critical that the Department of Insurance do adequate outreach and education by contracting with third parties who have experience in these areas. Using third party navigators and making information on the exchanges available offline are the best ways to ensure that the rural uninsured gain access to the exchange."

Area locations for meetings:

Thursday, August 30
6:00-9:00pm
Lied Lodge
2700 Sylvan Rd
Nebraska City, NE

Monday, September 10
6:00-9:00 pm
Omaha Ramada Plaza
3321 S 72nd St
Omaha, NE


Individuals interested in attending these meetings can contact Virginia Wolking at the Center for Rural Affairs (402.687.2103 ext 1014 or virginiaw@cfra.org) for additional information, or just show up at the meeting that is most convenient for them.