Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett Kicks off Marketplace Open Enrollment at UW Milwaukee

Local officials and community representatives gathered at UW Milwaukee (UWM) on November 1 to kick off the fifth open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace. Held in conjunction with an enrollment fair on the UWM campus, the media event helped raise awareness for the enrollment period and remind consumers free, in-person assistance is available to help individuals get or renew health care coverage.

UWM’s Dr. Julie Bonner, Mayor Tom Barrett, MKEN’s Caroline Gomez-Tom, and Melissa Baldauff of the Milwaukee County Executive’s office highlight the calendar of enrollment events in Milwaukee.

“The ACA has not been repealed or replaced, and open for business – with many affordable choices among the health plans serving Milwaukee,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “It’s important everyone understand that all the financial supports in the ACA are still in place, and most individuals will see little change in their monthly premiums.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, there has been a 54% reduction in Milwaukee County’s uninsured rate, which is now down to 6.8%. Of the remaining 63,000 uninsured individuals, the great majority are eligible for coverage in Medicaid or for financial assistance in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“One of the main goals of the Affordable Care Act is to help people afford a plan that fits their needs and budgets.  Still, many people wonder if they can afford coverage, or aren’t aware that financial help is available,” said a spokesperson for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.  “In Milwaukee County, over 90% of those who enrolled in the Marketplace last year received financial assistance to make their plans more affordable.  The same will be true this year. Many can get coverage for $100 or less, often less than a household cable bill.”

Throughout the six-week open enrollment period, the Milwaukee Enrollment Network will offer more than 35 enrollment events in the Milwaukee area that are open to the public. Consumers may also schedule an appointment to receive free help completing their applications by dialing 2-1-1, or texting their zip code to 898-211.

Consumers signing up for Marketplace coverage in 2018 will find many affordable insurance choices among three qualified health plans serving area residents: Common Ground Health Cooperative, Network Health, and Together with CCHP. It will be important for Marketplace consumers to “shop” all plans, as pricing, plan designs, and provider networks may change from year to year. In addition, in the Milwaukee area, approximately 18,000 individuals will be impacted by Molina Healthcare leaving the Marketplace. These individuals or families will likely transition to other health plans.

“We know that many people have questions and need help navigating all of the options available to them. Local navigators and certified application counselors are available to provide free, in-person assistance at locations throughout the community, including at our City of Milwaukee Health Department clinics and four Milwaukee Public Library branches,” added the mayor.

Dr. Julie Bonner, campus health officer at UWM and executive director of Norris Health Center and University Counseling and Health Promotion and Wellness, noted, “UWM students make decisions every day about the next steps in their health care, and those decisions are influenced by whether they have access to high quality health insurance and services.”  The enrollment fair was staffed by Covering Wisconsin navigators, independent agents and certified application counselors from the City’s Community Health Access Program.