500,000 Wisconsinites will need to buy health insurance - or face a penalty - under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
10,000 of those people alone are from Marathon County and received letters this week saying they are being dropped from BadgerCare.
On October 1, anyone can shop online for health insurance. Resources are available to make the online enrollment process easier.
If you want to buy a book online, you might go to www.amazon.com where you can pick between hardcover or paperback and you can even pick between different sellers. On October 1, you'll have that same option to buy health care online. You can go to healthcare.gov to pick between different providers and also see different plans with each provider.
Healthcare.gov is an online marketplace – or exchange – the federal government is running.
“When Affordable Care Act was made in 2010, they went back and asked 'How can we insure more Wisconsinites?' The way they are going to do this is by inviting people to participate in the marketplace,” said Mary Testin, whose job is to educate the public and coordinate with agencies to get the uninsured insured.
Wisconsin is one of 26 states with federally operated exchanges. Other states like Minnesota chose to run their own.
Not everyone has to worry about this online marketplace.
“People who don't need to pay attention are people on Medicare, people on disability right now, or if your employer offers insurance,” said Testin.
But if you don't have insurance or if you are losing your BadgerCare, you can go to healthcare.gov to find coverage.
In Marathon County, four companies were approved to offer insurance online. Each county might have different providers but every provider has multiple plans available. “There is bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, and, of course, the higher you go up in – they call these the medal tears – the more expensive your premium will be but the greater your coverage,” said Testin.
The prices for plans in Marathon County won't be available until October 1.
Testin says everyone has questions. “Where can I enroll? Who can I talk to about this? How much will it cost me?” said Testin. AyLee Her is at Bridge Community Health Clinic to answer those questions. Her is the only Certified Application Counselor in Marathon County. “We help educate people, we help connect them to the right resources, and more importantly, we get them through the enrollment process, through the actual application process,” said Her.
If you qualify for insurance, you have until March 31 to enroll before you will face a penalty. But, December 15 is the deadline for plans to go into effect on January 1.
You can call “211” any time to find out about upcoming informational sessions. The next one will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Marathon County Public Library in downtown Wausau.
You can contact AyLee Her, a Certified Application Counselor, through the Bridge Community Health Clinic or at 715-261-2137.
You can view plans at https://www.healthcare.gov/