Deadline approaches to sign up for individual health insurance

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    With barely one week left for people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of Wisconsin residents who have enrolled is about the same as it was at this time last year.

    But state officials are urging people who don’t have health insurance through their employer to seek coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov, established under the ACA.

    The open enrollment period began Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. The deadline applies to returning customers as well as first-time users of the health insurance portal.

    From Nov. 1 through Nov. 28 this year, 69,511 people in the state have purchased a health insurance plan through the federal marketplace, according to the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI).

    “That’s roughly on pace with this time last year, which had 69,828 enrollees between Nov. 1 and 30,” says Sarah Smith, director of public affairs for the OCI.

    Commissioner of Insurance Mark Afable joined Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in a telephone news conference Monday to draw attention to the Dec. 15 deadline. Health insurance is especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they emphasized.

    “Access to healthcare services Wisconsinites need is really going to help our state recover from this pandemic more quickly,” Afable stated.

    People who obtained their 2020 healthcare coverage through HealthCare.gov should revisit the website to update their personal information and comparison-shop for coverage again, according to the organization Protect Our Care, which organized Monday’s open-enrollment news conference. The group advocates for preserving and strengthening the ACA.

    Nearly 80% of people buying healthcare coverage under the ACA qualified for federal financial help that made their monthly premiums less expensive, according to Protect Our Care.

    OCI also has a website, https://wiscovered.com/, that offers Wisconsin residents free help in connecting with appropriate sources for healthcare coverage, including the HealthCare.gov marketplace as well as BadgerCare, which provides medical coverage for low-income Wisconsin residents.

    Erik Gunn
    Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.