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Public health department helps with the Marketplace

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

by Justyna Tomtas, Valley Press

The Sanders County Public Health Department recently became recognized as a Certified Application Counselor organization and is now able to provide assistance in understanding, applying and enrolling for health coverage through the Marketplace.

Karen Dwyer, program assistant, completed her training and is now available for assistance. Currently there are two individuals who can help in the county.

Russell Logan from Clark Fork Valley Hospital and Family Medicine Network is registered on the Marketplace for local help as is the Public Health Department.

Overall, the process for the health department to become CAC certified did not take long.

Dwyer said after a kink was worked out the process took a couple of weeks.

So far Dwyer has helped five people. She explained one couple was able to get insurance for a little over $100 a month, while she helped a single person get insurance for $38 a month.

"My role is to try to answer their questions and walk them through the project," Dwyer said.

She said through her experience she has seen the system improve a lot and many of the glitches first reported have been fixed.

Although help was offered through the hospital and their satellite clinics, Dwyer felt it was important to bring the service to the heart of the county in Thompson Falls.

"There really wasn't anything else to guide people through the process," Dwyer said. "We have clients who need help with that and then I figured we are the Sanders County Public Health Department. We have a whole county (to help) here."

There was no charge to complete the process and although Dwyer is the only one registered with the health department, there is a possibility more will be trained.

The deadline to sign up through the Marketplace for the year 2014 is March 31 and anyone who needs assistance with the process is encouraged to contact Dwyer for help. She can be reached at 827-6931 or

According to the Marketplace's website,, the Marketplace allows people to find health coverage with one application.

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