ACA In Wisconsin: Sign-up Success Story
A Price County man picked an ACA plan with ease on the website.
But first if you've listened to our coverage or just about any other, you've heard repeated stories about how difficult it's been to sign up for coverage through the healthcare.gov website. And don't get me started on the phone number, seemed to be the message from people we interviewed who also had trouble with that. Well, all this naysaying got one viewer to reach out to us saying, the public isn't being told the whole truth. It started with a letter.
It reads, “I live in northern Wisconsin, earning an at or below poverty level income, which is pretty much the standard for northern Wisconsin incomes.” Then Gerry Westphal lays it out. He continues, “I felt I needed affordable insurance for health care, but I haven’t a computer, nor do I own a Smartphone.” Westphal does watch over the air TV at his Price County home and he kept seeing this.
And frustration continues statewide as customers get shut out of healthcare.gov.
Your account couldn't be created at this time.
I'm disappointed beyond words. This is very frustrating.
I was just livid. It's like, people are still hearing the same stories and it's not true.
Because Westphal says when he picked up the phone and called the health care marketplace number, he got near immediate results.
Within 15 minutes it was done. I hung the phone up and I sat there awestruck like did this really happen. Nothing happens this easy. Nothing is that easy. And I called unemployment before and it gets to be like you can do a whole load of laundry, bake a cake before they answer the phone. I was just ready to put them on speakerphone and start chores, guy answered right away.
Westphal successfully enrolled in an Marshfield Clinic marketplace HMO with a premium of $25 a month and a $400 deductible. That compares to his employer's plan that he says was $200 a month with a $5,000 deductible.
But up here there's very limited number of people who are making above the poverty level and this is going to help them survive.
There are about 45,000 people in the state of Wisconsin that signed up for January 1 coverage. What we saw just in our service area which is 32 counties in central northern and western Wisconsin is we had about 10,000 members. We had one out of every four people who signed up through the federally facilitated marketplace sign up with Security Health Plan.
Security Health Plan is the HMO Westphal is now in. The plan's administrators fanned out across Wisconsin’s northern reaches to help people enroll.
Literally we had people walking out of these events that had signed up for coverage, and they were in tears because they hadn't had coverage for so long prior to the Affordable Care Act. I think those are some of the stories that haven't been told.
In Gerry Westphal's case, even though he had coverage, he says he really couldn't afford to see the doctor because of his hefty deductible. As an avid woodworker in his shop full of power tools and saws, something like a nick of a finger could spell trouble.
You can't imagine how more reassuring it is knowing that if something would go wrong, I could do something, I could get help.
He's also more comfortable getting checked out at his clinic in town without always worrying about the cost.
I've got a lot of little things here and there that will probably become worse as I get older. But now I'm going to get them addressed. I'll be able to get these things taken care of. They don't turn out to be a bigger, worse expense.
And so the letter writer from the north gets to tell his story of success with the Affordable Care Act saying, “It was hard to believe after all the negativity that this has received, how easy it was to do.”