Wescott, County Officials Help Falk Spread Word on Insurance Marketplace
By Lisa Pett
Just six weeks remain for uninsured Wisconsin residents to enroll in a plan using the Health Insurance Marketplace.
HHS Region 5 Director Kathleen Falk came to Stevens Point on Monday to deliver that message during a press conference at the County Annex Building. Few residents outside of the press corps were in attendance.
Falk said over 92,000 Wisconsin residents have already signed up through the Marketplace- with almost half of those being new sign ups- but she worries many are unaware of how to obtain coverage.
Interim Mayor Gary Wescott was on hand to introduce Falk. Wescott said last week it wasn’t his job to debate the merits of the Marketplace, only to share the information- something he called “his responsibility”.
“Quality healthcare is important,“ said Stevens Point Mayor Gary Wescott. “And quality health insurance is important.”
The Health Insurance Marketplace is the online federal exchange providing private health insurance or application for Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). The Marketplace is also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” and opens insurance availability to those previously unable to attain it due to preexisting conditions.
“Nothing is more important than people being healthy enough to get up and go to work or for their children to be healthy enough to attend school,” Falk said.
The online enrollment process has been streamlined and simplified, according to Falk. Data from last year’s enrollment has been saved and the application process is down from 76 screens to 16.
“More insurers in Wisconsin have added plans to the Marketplace,” said Falk. “There are now 15 carriers, up from 13, putting pressure on companies to keep prices low, making [the] insurance more affordable.”
Falk also added about 90 percent of all enrollees qualify for some kind of subsidy or tax credit, and most insurance plans cost about $100 monthly.
County leaders said they were glad to have Falk in town touting the program. It will make the enrollment period smoother, according to County HHS Director Ray Pzybelski.
“We did this last year,” he said. “This year is going better.”
Assistance is available for those seeking answers about eligibility and enrollment. Portage County Health and Human Services has an ACA certified application counselor, provided by the AmeriCorps Program, to answer questions and provide further information to enrollees.
To contact counselor Anthony Meier call Portage County Health and Human Services at (715) 345-5350 or 866-920-2525 or email [email protected].
To apply and enroll, or to find more information online go to www.healthare.gov. Links and contact information can also be found on the City of Stevens Point’s website at stevenspoint.com/marketplace, or by calling the federally facilitated call center at 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day.