UPDATE: Federal health market surpasses 1 million signups

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Helpful websites:

Official Federal Government site for the Health Insurance Marketplace

Group Health Cooperative (GHC)

Kaiser Family Foundation

Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

ABC for Health, Inc.

1-888-794-5556 (Capital Consortium Call Center) for help with BadgerCare coverage changes.

1-800-318-2596 Federal hotline for help with questions about the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

UPDATED Sunday, December 29, 2013 --- 6:20 a.m.

HONOLULU (AP) -- The Obama administration says that following a December surge more than 1.1 million people have now enrolled for health insurance through the federal government's improved website.

Nearly 1 million signed up this month through the federal exchange serving 36 states before the Dec. 24 deadline to enroll for coverage to start in January. Compare that to a paltry 27,000 in October, the website's first, problem-plagued month.

The Health and Human Services department says in the week leading up to Dec. 24, nearly twice as many enrolled as in the first part of December.

Sunday's number is only partial, because the administration didn't provide an update on the 14 states running their own websites. California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut have done well, but others are still struggling.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

UPDATED Thursday, October 10, 2013 --- 10:20 p.m.
Reporter: Phil Levin

Wisconsin health care companies say they are still struggling to sign customers up for insurance on the new federal website.

The healthcare.gov page launched Oct. 1 and was immediately slowed by millions of users trying to access the site. Over the weekend the portal was briefly taken offline for maintenance but this week users are still having trouble.

"As soon as the health plans pull up and the different options I've gotten kicked out several times," said Group Health Cooperative Agent Linsey Tennyson. "Just creating the account took quite a few tries before I could even get that far into the process."

Tennyson and other local agents indicate possibly as little as a few dozen clients have been able to complete registration in our area, some only because they logged on early in the morning. The insurers are also receiving erroneous signup confirmations from the federal government's site indicating someone completed the process when in fact their information is inaccurate or incomplete.

If you live in the Madison area, GHC and other insurers are available to discuss plans and help users sign up at weekly session at the Dane County Job Center Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.


UPDATED Tuesday, October 1, 2013 --- 6:17 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Heidi Rozek admits being confused about how the new federal health law affects her.

That's why she showed up first thing Tuesday morning at the Dane County Job Center to get answers.

Rozek is one of an estimated 700,000 Wisconsin residents who are expected to be shopping for insurance coverage on the new online marketplace, or exchange, where federally subsidized private insurance plans are available to purchase.

Enrollment on the exchange began Tuesday and continues through March 31.

Rozek says she learned Tuesday that she likely will qualify for BadgerCare Medicaid coverage and won't have to buy insurance through the exchange.

Only five people showed up in the first hour the Job Center was open to inquire about the exchange.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


UPDATED Sunday, September 28, 2013 --- 8:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The new online exchange where people can buy health insurance opens Tuesday.

But advocates for those in Wisconsin who will be shopping for coverage say Dec. 15, not Oct. 1, is the date that concerns them the most.

That's when the deadline hits to get coverage beginning in January. That date is especially important for 92,000 people being forced off Wisconsin's BadgerCare Medicaid program at the end of the year. If they don't sign up for coverage through the exchange by Dec. 15, they will have no insurance at the start of next year.

Jon Peacock, research director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, says there could be a "big bottleneck" around that December deadline.

Both he and state officials encourage people to start shopping for insurance early.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
UPDATED Wednesday, September 25, 2013 -- 11:45 a.m.

The cost to purchase health insurance sold under the new federal care overhaul will be higher in Wisconsin than the national average.

Wisconsin ranks 36th nationwide in average monthly premium costs based on information the Obama administration released on Wednesday. The information from the U.S. Department of Human Services compares weighted average premiums among 47 states and the District of Columbia.

In Wisconsin, the mid-level plan on average will cost $361 a month in premiums. That compares with a national average of $328.

Those costs are before people apply any tax credits they may be eligible to receive. And the actual cost will vary based on a person's individual circumstances, including where they live.


UPDATED Friday, Sept. 20th--6:00 p.m.

For the 13 companies in Wisconsin that will be selling insurance to the uninsured in the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace, it's just about D-Day. The Marketplace goes on-line October 1st.

One of those local health insurers tonight gives us an inside look tonight at the unique, and some would say risky, approach it's taking ahead of this major moment for ObamaCare .

Remember, beginning October 1st at healthcare dot gov, you'll be able to compare a number of different companies' plans and pick the one that's best for you--if you need insurance.

Those who don't have health insurance next year face fines under the Individual Mandate requirement of the Affordable Care Act.
______________________________________________________UPDATED Thursday, Sept. 19th--6:00 p.m.

Younger people: they often think they don't need insurance...and often they don't have it. But they're required to starting January 1st, 2014.

In the 4th part of our series, "Health Care Countdown", we look at how young people can find health insurance on the Marketplace, and the vital role they play in the success of a key part of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare".

UPDATED Wednesday, Sept. 18th--6:00 p.m.

In February, Governor Walker turned down money from the federal government to expand Wisconsin's Medicaid program called BadgerCare Plus next year.

Individuals and families making the federal poverty level will now have to shop for insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace opening October 1st as part of the Affordable Care Act, "Obamacare".

Wisconsin is coming up with money to add 100,000 people who make less than that to BadgerCare. But some experts we spoke with worry those new to health insurance, and those losing their BadgerCare coverage the end of the year, could face a lot of confusion. That's the focus of part 3 of our series, "Health Care Countdown."


UPDATED Tuesday, Sept. 17th--6:00 p.m.

Last night on NBC15 News at 6, we told you how at least 640-thousand people who don't have health insurance right now, or who are not satisfied with their current plans, can start shopping the on-line health insurance marketplace October 1st.

Nearly everyone's required to have coverage starting January 1st as part of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.

In part two of our series, "Health Care Countdown", we take a look at how the on-line Health Insurance Marketplace will work.


Posted Monday, September 16, 2013--6:15 p.m.

Beginning January 1st, 2014 Americans are required to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."

On October 1st, those who don't already have health insurance will have a new way to shop for it on something called The Exchanges, or Health Insurance Marketplace. The insurance coverage will start January 1, 2014.

John Stofflet tells us why October 1st is such an important day for more than 600,000 Wisconsinites, including tens of thousands of people in our area, in part one of his five-part series, "Countdown to Healthcare."

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