Health insurance deadline approaching

APPLETON – Open enrollment for health insurance began last October and going through February 1, nearly 3.3 million people signed up through the federal government’s online marketplace.

Partnership Community Health Center in Appleton is offering assistance in Northeast Wisconsin.

“We’re here to make sure that everybody’s insured and it depends on income level of course. If they have the higher income level then they are eligible for the Affordable Care Act and lower income level, they’re most likely eligible for Medicaid,” said Shannon Frelich, a certified application counselor.

As of 2011, the state estimated 445,000 residents were uninsured. But as of February 1, only around 56,000 Wisconsinites had signed up for health care through the online marketplace.

Though more people are signing up in the state, Wisconsin is still behind other Midwest states.

In Michigan more than 112,000 have signed up;  in Illinois more than 88,000.

If you want to be insured by April 1, you have to make sure you’re enrolled by March 15. If you have questions, the Partnership Community Health Center has five councilors on hand to help.

“We’re really focusing on trying to get people in that are losing their Badger Care right now as well as people who’ve waited to the last minute to enroll into the marketplace,” said Patricia Sarvela, Development Director with Partnership Community Health Center.

Patricia Sarvela says since October, Partnership Community Health Center enrolled nearly 1,100 people.

Sarvela says when the healthcare.gov website faced challenges during its first launch, her staff had to wait for the website to be fixed.

“When we look at our numbers, we’re really high. For the states that needed to go out into the marketplace, Wisconsin is one of the higher states doing that. With all of the challenges in place, we’ve done well.”

April 1 is when penalties kick in for the uninsured.

The fine works out to $95 a year or one percent of your annual income.

If you still need to signup for health insurance you can also dial 211. It will give you more information about events in your area.

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