Five things to know and do ahead of the health insurance ‘Open Enrollment’ deadline
By Khrystyne Lindgren, MD
Ascension Rhinelander Medical Group
As our country navigates a global health pandemic, it is more important than ever to have health insurance coverage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 26.1 million people did not have health insurance at any point during 2019. Health insurance supports access to primary care visits and important screening exams, like mammograms and colonoscopies, which all help keep you healthy.
It’s time for Wisconsin residents to make their health plan decisions for next year. Open Enrollment is happening now until Dec. 15 and people who do not receive health insurance through their employer and who aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare, can find an insurance plan on HealthCare.gov.
In Wisconsin, 7% of residents were without health insurance for part or all of the past year. This represents approximately 408,000 of our friends and neighbors. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Blacks and Hispanics were less likely than Whites to have had health insurance for the entire past year. Likewise, residents living in poor and near-poor households were less likely to have had health insurance for the entire past year than residents living in non-poor households.
Now is the time when we can turn these numbers around.
At Ascension Wisconsin, we are committed to delivering on our Mission to provide compassionate, personalized care to all, and to achieve 100 percent access and 100 percent coverage in the communities we serve. Every day we care for people who are eligible for insurance but aren’t enrolled. Financial help is available for those who qualify, such as subsidies that lower monthly bills and reduce out-of-pocket costs, like copayments and deductibles.
HERE ARE FIVE THINGS TO KNOW AND DO AHEAD OF THE OPEN ENROLLMENT DEADLINE:
1. Know the deadline. The deadline to enroll in a health plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace is Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.
2. Gather your information. Before you start the application process, gather the key information you will need to include about yourself and your household.
3. Explore your options and get answers. Compare health plans and prices on HealthCare.gov so you can make a healthy choice for you and your family.
4. Begin the application process. Visit HealthCare.gov to begin the enrollment process. You can also contact the Marketplace Call Center: 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). Operators can accommodate your language needs.
5. Receive free help enrolling, near you. Visit Covering Wisconsin or call 414.400.9489 to find a person or community group in your area who is trained to assist you in enrolling at no cost to you. Ascension Wisconsin also has trained staff that can provide enrollment assistance. You can contact them at 1-855-642-9472. These helpful individuals can also find out if you qualify for savings on health coverage.
If you or someone you know is without health insurance, take action today. Free help is available. This first step will help keep you and your loved ones stay healthy. There is no better time than now to ensure you and your family gets insured.
Khrystyne Lindgren, MD, is a primary care clinician with Ascension Medical Group in Rhinelander.
Ask questions to avoid open enrollment scams
Wisconsin insurance and consumer protection officials are warning consumers to be wary of suspicious sales calls during the health insurance open enrollment period. Before buying health insurance over the phone, consumers should ask callers the following questions:
• Are you a Wisconsin-licensed health insurance agent or broker? If so, what is your national producer number (NPN)?
• Are you a Wisconsin-licensed navigator or certified application counselor?
• Are you offering ACA-compliant qualified health plans?
• Am I eligible for a discount or reduced premium based upon my income on the Exchange?
• Am I eligible for Medicaid or BadgerCare?
• Are you showing me all of the insurance options available?
• Are you charging me a fee? Signing up for health insurance should be free.
Consumers are encouraged to work with a licensed insurance agent or an enrollment assister, or call the United Way’s 211 helpline or visit wiscovered.com.