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Health insurance enrollment fair provides help

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Jim Leute
January 20, 2014

JANESVILLE—Faced with a monthly health insurance premium of $1,400 and an annual deductible of $10,000, Mike Morris made a difficult decision more than a decade ago.

“I told her to stop paying it,” Morris said of the decision he made for himself and his wife, co-owners of Morris Excavating in Janesville.

“If that's what it was then, I can't imagine what it would be today.”

Uninsured for several years, Morris and his wife, Mary, attended a health insurance enrollment fair Monday at the Rock County Job Center.

They were interested in the recently launched Affordable Care Act and the options for affordable health insurance that will bridge them to age 65 and the start of their Medicare coverage.

“I'm glad the health care law passed,” Mike Morris said. “We gotta start somewhere, and this is much better than the way it has been.”

The Morrises had just walked away from a table where they'd spent 90 minutes on a computer with help from one of the several certified counselors and assisters available at Monday's fair. They were taking a break and planned to return later in the day to finish their application and see what their results would be.

Monday's fair included representatives from Dean Health Plan and MercyCare HMO, the two insurance companies offering marketplace plans in Rock County. In another room, a community advocate was repeating presentations on the ins and outs of the healthcare law.

In the job center's computer room, about 30 computers were set up and help was available for people who wanted to start or complete their marketplace applications.

On a typical day, only four computers are available for marketplace sign-ups. But Monday was not a typical day, as the federal holiday closed the computer room to anyone not seeking help with marketplace issues.

“This has been an absolutely wonderful opportunity,” Mary Morris said.

The couple had visited the online marketplace from home but appreciated the help they received Monday, she said.

“Two normal people like us couldn't figure it out,” she said. “I'm so relieved that we came. We've received some very good information.”

While Monday's fair made more resources available, ACA and marketplace help is always available at the job center, said Caroline Robb, a human services support specialist there.

Interest in marketplace enrollment has picked up dramatically in the past couple of weeks, Robb said, noting that people who sign up by the 15th of the month can have their marketplace insurance start the first day of the following month.

As of Friday, the job center specialists had helped 168 people, 59 of whom had completed their applications and received their pricing results.

The vast majority—all but four of the 59—had completed their application by phone instead of online.

Most, Robb said, were older, which reflects state and national trends.

The federal government reported last week that only 24 percent of marketplace enrollees—and 19 percent in Wisconsin—were 18 to 34 years old. In contrast, 33 percent of those signed up nationally—and 45 percent in Wisconsin—were 55 to 64 years old.

“There haven't been as many younger people as I'd like to see,” Robb said, adding that the older generation seems to feel more comfortable applying over the phone.

Robb said the technological glitches that plagued the online marketplace near its launch in October are a thing of the past.

Most people, she said, can fill out an application and get their results in less than 45 minutes.

“We enjoy it when people come in and we can help them,” Robb said. “We will spend whatever amount of time is needed to get them the information and help they need.

“If they've got the time, we can do it.”

ACA HELP IN ROCK COUNTY

Informational in-person sessions

MercyCare Health Plans

--10:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Jan. 28 in Room G380B at Mercy Walworth Hospital & Medical Center, N2950 Highway 67, Lake Geneva.

--12:30 p.m. Fridays through Jan. 31 in Room 1 at Mercy Health Mall, 1010 N. Washington St., Janesville.

Available computers with assisters and/or certified application counselors

Assisters are people who can communicate with the public about options and how to connect with the enrollment support network.

Certified application counselors are people who have completed federal or state training to help people with enrollment and guidance through the website but not give advice on plans.

--Beloit Health System, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 1969 W. Hart Road or 1905 Huebbe Parkway, Beloit, or at Northpointe, 5605 E. Rockton Road, Roscoe, Ill.

For more information, call 608-364-1539.

--Community Health Systems, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays (counselors and assisters) at 74 Eclipse Center, Beloit.

For more information, call 608-361-0311.

--Dean and St. Mary's Janesville, 3400 E. Racine St., Janesville, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays (agents and assisters) in the health resources library. Dean Health Plan licensed agents are available from 8:30 to 11 a.m., Thursdays.

For more information, call 608-373-8000.

--Edgerton Hospital, 11101 N. Sherman Road, Edgerton, assisters by appointment.

For more information, call 608-884-3441.

--Enrollment Assistance Center, 2919 104/C N. Lexington Dr., Janesville, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, counselors and assisters.

For more information, call 608-449-1544.

--MercyCare Health Plans, 580 N. Washington St., Janesville, agents from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, call 1-800-895-2421.

--Rock County Economic Support, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, assisters from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, call 608-741-3400.

Available computers without assisters and/or certified application counselors

--Edgerton Community Outreach, 106 S. Main St., Edgerton, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

For more information, call 608-884-9593.

--Rock County Job Center, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays in the resource room.

--Beloit Public Library, 605 Eclipse Blvd., Beloit, from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, call 608-364-2905.

--Clinton Public Library, 214 Mill St., Clinton, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call 608-676-5569.

--Eager Free Public Library, 39 W. Main St., Evansville, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call 608-882-2260.

--Edgerton Public Library, 101 Albion St., Edgerton, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call 608-884-4511.

--Hedberg Public Library, 316 S. Main St., Janesville, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 608-758-6588.

--Milton Public Library, 430 E. High St., Milton, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 608-868-7462.

--Orfordville Public Library, 203 W. Beloit St., Orfordville, from noon to 7 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, call 608-879-9229.

Assisters, certified application counselors

--Rock County Council on Aging, 3328 Highway 51, Janesville, one assister.

For more information, call 608-757-5472.

--St. Mary's Janesville Hospital, 3400 E. Racine St., Janesville, two counselors by appointment.

For more information, call 608-373-8792.

--Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, one assister.

For more information, call 608-741-3564.



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