Health Exchange Gains Momentum, and Critics

Dec 12, 2013

More people are signing up for health insurance through the federal health exchange, now that some of the website’s bugs have been fixed.  But not everyone’s finding it easy…or affordable. 

The Mercer Library held an info session last week to help answer questions about the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Alicia Cook is a certified application assistant at Aspirus Grandview in Ironwood, Michigan.  That means she helps people in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula sign up for health insurance. She says two months into the open enrollment period, people are just starting to come to her for help. 

“I think people were a little leery.  And now that the website is working a little bit better, they’re deciding to come in and get the information they need.”

Cook says some people need help using computers and the online exchange, and some just want the options explained. 

“It’s new to most people – so it’s just walking them through it. I’ve had many people applying with the paper applications, they just prefer it even though it takes longer.” 

But though more people are signing up, not everyone’s satisfied with the new options for health insurance.  Cheryl Bowen of Manitowish Waters says her current plan is being discontinued, and she’s reluctant to sign up for a new one. 

“I’m not happy because the Obamacare plans require you to pay for a lot of services that you don’t need – especially if, you know I’m healthy, I don’t need all those services.”

Bowen is in her 60s and will soon qualify for Medicare.  But right now her age means full cost monthly premiums in her area start out at more than 600 dollars.   She says she’ll likely choose a high deductible plan to keep monthly costs down. 

“And because I don’t use the health care system that much.  So what will happen is I will get less coverage and probably end up paying at least twice as much.  But I will have to go to a much higher deductible. 

Some counties have a few more options than others.  In Iron County, Security Health is the only provider offering plans.