Deadline looming for health insurance - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Deadline looming for health insurance

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WAUSAU (WAOW) - There are more problems in the rollout of the new healthcare law with less than a week before a major deadline.

Application counselors at Bridge Community Health Clinic are busy.

"I am getting a lot of panicky calls," said AyLee Her, a certified application counselor.

Counselors say health insurance enrollment numbers through
healthcare.gov aren't as high as they'd hoped.

"This week I'm packing my schedule as much as I can to help as many as I can just to meet the deadline of December 23," said Her.

New volunteers are helping people here get through the process, too.

"Some people have not had insurance before. So you really have to go over what this one means and what the costs are," said John Enk, a certified application counselor.

"The people I have helped enroll have been very satisfied with the end results," said Joel Lewis, a certified application counselor.

But for every two steps forward, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act seems to take one step back.

After problems with the website surfaced, enrollment specialists turned to paper applications. But that didn't help.

"A lot of the paper applications are missing. We don't know where they went. It's very frustrating," said Mary Testin, a regional enrollment coordinator. "The ones that were done on the website during October, apparently when they re-did the website and got it to work better, some of that information got lost. This is extremely frustrating to everybody involved but it is what it is."

Now people here who sent in a paper application or applied online in October are being told if they haven't heard from the insurance company they selected by now, they probably won't. And they need to apply online again.

The deadline for that is right around the corner. People must be enrolled by December 23 in order for coverage to kick in by the first of the year.

Enrollment specialists say they have planned a unique event for people who want to enroll for health insurance or if those who just have questions about the new law. For the first time, the three insurance companies offering plans for Marathon County will be in the same room. Those companies are WPS-Arise, Security Health Plan, and Compare-Blue Cross Blue Shield. That event is Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Westwood Conference Center. If you want help enrolling there, bring a photo ID and your social security card.

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