Understanding Obamacare: How To Sign Up

This article was originally featured in the Oct 1, 2013 edition of the Shepherd Express in Milwaukee

Question: When can I access Obamacare and where do I go?

Answer: Open enrollment is here! Oct. 1 marked the start of open enrollment for health coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014. You can now go to the new health marketplace to see the new options for purchasing health coverage.

If you have access to a computer, the easiest place to go is the website for the health marketplace in Wisconsin, healthcare.gov. The healthcare.gov marketplace will show you all the plans in your area with a clear apples-to-apples comparison between plans, and will inform you if you qualify for a tax subsidy to reduce the cost or if you’re eligible for BadgerCare.

There are many other options for comparing plans and enrolling in coverage for those who prefer methods other than the website. A 24/7 number is available to hear your options and enroll over the phone, 1-800-318-2596. Across Wisconsin, a number of organizations will have navigators and certified application counselors available to show you your options and help you enroll. Many of these organizations are in your community, but regardless of location, these organizations will serve any Wisconsin resident who calls. Public libraries and many community institutions like hospitals, community health centers and some free clinics will be a resource for you on the ground, directing you on how to get coverage or helping you access the website. And lastly, agents/brokers are still a great resource, and many are trained to enroll in this marketplace.

When you want to sign up, it is worth having these documents close by: Social Security numbers (or document numbers for legal immigrants); birth dates; pay stubs, W-2 forms, or “Wage and Tax Statements”; policy numbers for any current health insurance; and information about any health insurance you or your family could get from your employer.

In no time at all, you can be enrolled in a new health plan that will be there when you need it. Soon, we will live in an America where everyone has the freedom to control their own health decisions, including the kind of coverage they can access.

—Kevin Kane, Citizen Action of Wisconsin

The Shepherd Express and Citizen Action of Wisconsin will answer questions about the Affordable Care Act during its implementation. Got a question? Email [email protected].

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