The countdown is on when it comes to mandatory health insurance and Thursday, state officials worked to help those in the area understand what the nation's health care law means for them.
There is less than a month before the uninsured are required to start looking for an insurance plan and if you don't have coverage, starting next year, you will face a fine.
According to state estimates about half a million Wisconsinites will need to use the health insurance exchanges and, as we've reported, we are getting a better idea of what those plans will cost.
As an independent insurance broker, Chris Hanson is trying to learn all she can about the Affordable Care Act.
"To anticipate what some of those questions are gonna be to us as the exchange opens in less than 30 days," explained Hanson.
Hanson joined about 100 others at a meeting in Appleton held by the state's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.
Spokesperson J.P. Wieske told FOX 11 he gets a lot of questions about the timeline.
"I think it's important for them to know that they've gotta buy policies by December 15th in order to have that January 1st effective date," explained Wieske.
The insurance exchange will open for enrollment October 1st. The open enrollment period for those without insurance ends March 31st.But the meeting was not without controversy.
Earlier this week, the office released a report which suggested insurance premiums will rise between nine and 125 percent.
Wieske told the audience Thursday the office's "methodology" was accurate, but some at the meeting questioned those numbers.
"Indicates to me that there may have been some other methodology used as well to come up with numbers that may have been preferred by the current administration," said Ann Muenster.
"We didn't want to scare people, but by the same token we didn't want people to have unrealistic expectations. It will depend on the individual's situation. So they need to look, they need to shop and they need to be aware of what's coming," Wieske said in response.
A study by private data analysis firm Avalere Health has shown under the new exchange, a 21-year-old might pay about $270 a month for a mid-range policy, which would cover about 70 percent of medical costs. The study suggests a 40-year-old would pay $330 a month for the same coverage and a 60-year-old would pay $615 a month.
But those numbers do not take into account possible tax credits and government subsidies which are expected to cover a lot of costs.
Wieske would not discuss exact numbers saying it's impossible to know what they will be until the exchange opens, saying, "They just need to be talking with their agent, look at who's available as a certified application counselor, navigator down the road, or somebody they trust to understand what's coming.”
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