A warning to do your homework before this Thursday's deadline to sign up for health insurance on the marketplace.
There are a lot of offers our there, that sound like the marketplace, but they often come with membership fees and might not meet the government's minimum health insurance requirements. Now a local organization is getting the word out so consumers don't end up with the wrong product.
Adela Strahota retired from her job of 30 years and needed last minute health insurance for 2015. Her advice looking back, "do your homework, but unfortunately I didn't. You know I knew I had to get insurance right away." She claims she called the marketplace but things got confusing. Adela talked to several representatives and says all of them offered different plans. In the end she agreed to the one with the lowest price. "Come to find out the insurance that they threw at me was catastrophic insurance."
That plan came with a high deductible and premium. Adela was paying more than $300 a month. For this year's coverage she met face to face with a local agent to help her maneuver the marketplace and said it made all the difference. Adela is now only paying around $62 a month, and her out-of-pocket costs are less.
A Wisconsin call center can help consumers, like Adela before they buy into the wrong product. It's a central access point for people in need IMPACT 2-1-1 handles all kinds of calls, including scheduling an appointment for consumers to meet, in person, with a certified health care navigator. Bob Waite of IMPACT told us the goal is to keep people from being mislead. "The benefit of the information that we keep is it's all vetted, so we're making sure that the information that we have is accurate."
Much of that information is coming from two organizations, the "Milwaukee Enrollment Network" and "Covering Wisconsin." Caroline Gomez-Tom is a manager for both programs and pointed out, "we're really able to help from point A to point Z and someone getting coverage and appropriate coverage for their family."
Many times Gomez-Tom sees consumers reaching out for help after they've signed up for the wrong insurance.
"those are the plans that aren't considered what you need for the Affordable Care Act." Plans people purchased outside the marketplace and might not meet the minimum standards of the ACA. "You may be insured with this limited or partial coverage, but because it's not seen as full coverage you may still have to pay the penalty when tax time comes."
Adela found the process less complicated this time around and feels she's paying what she should for health insurance.
In Adela's case she actually contacted our "Call 4 Action" volunteers before enrolling for this year. They suggested she find a local agent to help her get the best marketplace coverage.
A reminder: December 15th is the last date to enroll for coverage that starts January 1. Another date that's out there is January 31st. It's the last day for special enrollment or to make changes to your plan.