Insurance coverage

Start of open enrollment period for government-subsidized health insurance coverage

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Community leaders and health experts are encouraging uninsured Wisconsinites to purchase a health insurance policy that best suits their personal and financial needs at health.gov.

Currently, more than 300,000 Wisconsin residents live without health insurance coverage in the state’s 72 counties.

“It is, in fact, a statewide problem,” said Secretary-designate Karen Timberlake of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “One of the resources we want to encourage people to use is a website called Wiscouvert.comwhich has great information on open enrollment, where to find a navigator, and how to get help in all 72 counties of our state.”

Milwaukee County has the worst uninsured rate in the state at 7%, or about 55,000 people. And 35,000 of those people live in the city of Milwaukee.

“Too many people put off getting the care they need. They put off seeing a doctor. Health insurance gives you the extra confidence to get that care, not just for yourself but for your family as well,” said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. “If more people were to enroll, if more people were to be covered, then we could start to bridge some of the disparities that we have right here in our community.”

Justin Rivas is the Director of Community Health Initiatives with Milwaukee Health Care Partnership and Manager of the Milwaukee Enrollment Network. He says cost is the biggest barrier that keeps people from getting a health insurance plan.

“At the end of the day, cost is always the biggest hurdle. Communicating that there are really inexpensive options is the challenge for us right now and that’s what we’re trying to do today,” said Rivas. “Be able to tell people there are low cost plans. Premiums of $10-$20 a month. Good plans out there and it’s really fair to find the right help to choose those plans for you.”

Expert Health Insurance Navigators are federally licensed and can provide free assistance year-round by comparing plans and prices of all coverage options, submitting claims for Healthcare.gov, BadgerCare Plus or Medicaid. They can also answer health insurance questions, resolve billing or coverage issues, and file eligibility appeals.

“Our rules and policies are constantly changing,” Rivas said. “These affordable plans were available last year through those same grants. They’ve changed a bit, there are even more lower-cost options now.”

Thanks to continued US Bailout and Inflation Reduction Act subsidies, four out of five customers will be able to find plans for $10 or less per month after tax credits. Anyone who registers before midnight on December 15 can receive full coverage from January 1, 2023. Those who miss the deadline still have until January 15, 2023 to register and receive coverage at from February 1, 2023.

Rivas says it’s important for everyone to review their policies going forward with the federal public health emergency set to end.

“Over 40 percent of Milwaukee County currently participates in some form of Medicaid program and many of those people are going to have to review their eligibility criteria,” Rivas said. “We just want to make sure that this gap doesn’t widen and, more importantly, address the inequities of people who really need coverage and who can be covered by Medicaid and who may also need to find that coverage on the market this year.

To receive free health insurance assistance from a licensed health insurance navigator, visit www.coveringwi.org/enroll or call 414-400-9489.