80,000 People in Milwaukee County Eligible for Open Enrollment Have Not Signed Up

Today on the CBS 58 News at 4 we were joined by Veronica Sotelo, a financial advocate at Aurora Health Care. Sotelo works at Aurora St. Luke’s and helps people who may not have health insurance understand what their options are.

According to the Milwaukee Enrollment Network, there are an estimated 80,000 people in Milwaukee county eligible for free or low-cost health insurance, and don’t know it, or don’t know how to sign up. November 1 is the first day people can register for insurance on healthcare.gov for 2017, and many have questions. Aurora Health Care has advocates at their hospitals that help people answer many of their questions

We’ve heard with the recent election season talk about changes to healthcare.gov. Sotelo says the reality is we don’t know what will happen, so right now we’re focused on helping people get the coverage they need today with the current system. What may play out down the road will play out, but this open enrollment period, get covered.

Open enrollment is a 3-month time period when the Health Insurance Marketplace accepts applications for health insurance. This year, open enrollment begins on November 1, 2016 and ends January 31, 2017. If you don’t sign up for health insurance by January 31, you won’t be able to get health insurance for 2017 unless you have a qualifying life event like getting married, having a baby, or changing jobs.

Sotelo says to decide on a health plan-- there are some important questions people should ask themselves:

-What are my family’s most important needs when it comes to health care?

-Who is healthy and who may need more care in the coming year?

-Is anyone planning a surgery or a pregnancy?

-Am I happy with my current plan? If not, what’s missing?

-What did I spend on health insurance last year? Do I expect that amount to change in 2017?

-How much do I want to spend on health insurance each month?

Choosing a plan is a big decision, because people can't change until open enrollment next year (without a qualifying life event).

It can be complex to look at all these options, what do you need for your family this year, what are the costs with it, do I qualify for subsidies, etc. Having someone help them and answer their questions is a huge help to them. And there are lots of resources in the community to help people:

-The Milwaukee Enrollment Network offers lots of options for people with questions.

-Most hospitals also have folks like myself available to help people.

-You can also visit our website at aurora.org/getcovered for more information.

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