I think most people would agree it has been a relief to no longer have preexisting conditions as a caveat to obtaining health insurance.

In a recent conversation, it became clear to me that there is confusion on why an annual health insurance enrollment period is necessary for this peace of mind.

We all know that to keep premiums low, healthy people must participate in health insurance.

We must also recognize that it is human nature to wait to the last minute. If given the opportunity, many would wait to purchase health insurance “tomorrow.”

Furthermore, for those who perceive themselves as healthy or struggling to make ends meet, if given the opportunity to wait and purchase health insurance, they probably would wait, too.

This would cause an influx to the system of sick people who wait to purchase coverage until they find out they have a problem, such as cancer, or a blessing, such as pregnancy.

Therefore, an annual health insurance enrollment period is necessary to keep premiums down and guarantee that coverage includes preexisting conditions.

It should be noted that an annual health insurance enrollment still encourages choice as we have seen in the Medicare market, where Medicare recipients choose annually from a wide variety of plans.

An annual enrollment is also common in employer-sponsored coverage.

Currently, the next health insurance enrollment is: Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. During this time, folks in the open market and marketplace (healthcare.gov) can enroll, re-enroll or change a 2019 insurance plan.

KATHERINE R. GAULKE

Town of Delavan

Founder of Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics

Katherine R. Gaulke lives in the town of Delavan. She teaches health service administration at Upper Iowa University and is founder of Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

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