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Healthcare Open Enrollment has Begun

If you're in need of health insurance, now is the time to get it. Healthcare.gov is back open for business as enrollment for 2016 began Sunday. A local healthcare navigator says it’s easier than ever to use.

By law, you have to have health insurance and starting Sunday, you can get it by using healthcare.gov, the government's website where you can shop for plans and sign up for financial assistance if you need it.

“Last year during open enrollment they really improved a lot of the website functions.  Easier questions, more direct and I think this year it’s going to be even easier,” said Caroline Gomez Tom, a navigator manager covering Wisconsin.

She says there are new features that make the process much easier than in years past, “like for example when they talk about gross income, it says in parenthesis the amount you pay before taxes get taken out.”

Gomez Tom says you should also have your income information readily available, “they want to know your expected annual income for the next year, pay stubs or income taxes from the year before they want to know that info so they can give you the right financial assistance.”

But this isn’t only about people without insurance, those who already have it through the marketplace also need to renew, “it will auto renew but it’s smart for people to go back and look at their options. We saw that people save $400 annual just by going back in and shopping last year.”

Healthcare premiums are expected to jump about 5% this year, but Gomez Tom says with more than 60 plans to choose from in the Milwaukee area your best bet is to shop around.

“You’re looking at costs, all of that is stuff people will need to look at and make sure they're making the right choice for their family.”

You have until December 15 to choose your healthcare option and the plans will kick in January 1, 2016.

If you need help with your application call 211 and you’ll be connected with a local navigator who can help you apply face-to-face.

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