Open enrollment underway for those seeking health insurance through federal marketplace

MILWAUKEE -- City leaders on Tuesday, November 1st kicked off open enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

If you need help enrolling, FREE, in-person assistance is available for those looking to get or renew health insurance.

During this year's open enrollment period, officials said 69 percent of residents will be able to find a plan for $100 or less.

Those looking to enroll have until January 31st of 2017 to do so.

Below is further information about ACA open enrollment via the City of Milwaukee's Health Department:

Local officials and community representatives gathered Tuesday, November 1st to kick off the fourth annual open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace, and to remind consumers that free, in-person assistance is available across the community to help individuals get – and renew – health care coverage. The time to sign up runs November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017.

Under the Affordable Care Act, there has been a 58% reduction in Milwaukee County’s uninsured rate. However, according to the Milwaukee Enrollment Network, an estimated 74,915 remain eligible for coverage in Medicaid or the Marketplace.

During this enrollment period, area residents are encouraged to shop the Marketplace and find out what tax credits they may be eligible for.

“We know that premium increases in Wisconsin are below the national average,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Director Kathleen Falk. “And, 84% of the folks signing up in the Marketplace in the Milwaukee area will qualify for financial assistance toward their premiums.”

During the 2016-2017 open enrollment period, 69% of Wisconsin residents will be able to find a plan for $100 or less. Those who are currently enrolled in a plan are also encouraged to look at new plans available. Shopping the Marketplace can save as much as 16%, or $608 a year for some enrollees.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, tens of thousands of Milwaukee-area residents who could never get insurance before now have access to health care coverage,” said U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore. “I urge all of my constituents to take just 30 minutes out of their day to visit and get covered.”

Covering Wisconsin, the region’s Navigator organization, the City of Milwaukee Health Department Community Healthcare Access Program (CHAP), and a variety of community organizations and insurance agents are ready to provide free enrollment assistance through January 31, when the open enrollment period ends.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett emphasized the important role that enrollment assistance plays in helping families understand their options.

“We know that many people have questions and need help navigating all of the options available to them. Local navigators and certified application counselors are available to provide free, in-person assistance at locations throughout the community, including at our City of Milwaukee Health Department clinics and four Milwaukee Public Library branches,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “To find a location near you, dial 2-1-1 today.”

“No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point in their lives,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “Health insurance helps pay for these costs and protects you from very high expenses. Rather than pay the fine, enroll in coverage and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re protected. Working together, our network of community partners is making it easier than ever to enroll in coverage. That's one reason we had so many new enrollees last year in Milwaukee County and won President Obama's Healthy Communities Challenge.”

In 2017, the fine for not having health insurance will be $695, or 2.5% of household income, whichever is greater.

Adults with income below 100% of the federal poverty level ($11,670 per year for an individual) and children and pregnant women in households with income under 300% of the poverty levels ($71,550 for a family of four), may enroll anytime in BadgerCare Plus.

Starting November 1, consumers can learn more about eligibility for enrollment in the Marketplace as well as BadgerCare Plus by visiting or calling the Health Insurance Marketplace national call center at 1-800-318-2596 (open 24 hours, 7 days a week). To get connected to free, in-person enrollment assistance in Milwaukee County, consumers should dial 2-1-1.