Affordable Care Act

People who need health insurance have just about one week left to sign up on the online health exchange. 

The open enrollment period ends March 31st. 

Mary Testin at Wausau’s Bridge Clinic is healthcare Regional Coordinator for Central Wisconsin.  She says a lot of people may have been putting off their decision until now.   

“It seems like people are waking up, because my phone is just ringing off the hook.  The deadline is real, it is not extended.  March 31st is the day, everyone must have healthcare or they’ll get a penalty.”

Northwoods residents have several chances to get help signing up for health insurance through the online marketplace.  Bridge Community Health Clinic has four sessions coming up in Rhinelander, providing one-on-one help. 

The clinic’s Central Wisconsin Enrollment Coordinator Mary Testin says Oneida County residents have been some of the most ready to sign up for health care. 

A health insurance sign-up session was fully booked Wednesday in Rhinelander.  Application counselors from Bridge Clinic in Wausau were on hand to walk people through the process of enrolling in the online exchange. 

Though a fickle internet connection was a frustration, at mid-day AyLee Her said he’d already helped three people sign up. 

“We are gonna be on the clock every hour.  So we’re hoping we don’t have any technical issues.  We should be able to get individuals enrolled within that hour and go on to the next individual.”

While one deadline to enroll in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has passed, another deadline is approaching in March. People needing help to enroll in Obamacare can meet with experts this week who can help.

Mary Testin is the Regional Enrollment Network lead person for this region.....


Ken Krall-WXPR

Wisconsin could be offering a health care option that is outside the realm of the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

During a stop in Rhinelander last week, Governor Scott Walker said he's been talking to the federal government to have Wisconsin residents get another option outside of the Affordable Care Act protocols.....


Will Brady

Monday is the deadline to pick a plan on the federal health exchange, if you want your coverage to start January 1st.  Most insurance companies are extending the deadline to pay for that coverage…until January 10th. 

Meanwhile healthcare groups in the Northwoods are seeing an uptick in the number of people asking for help signing up via the exchange.

Myra Kubesh is a certified application assistant at Langlade Hospital.  She says many people have questions about whether they qualify for a subsidy...and what kinds of coverage different plans offer. 

Rhinelander health care premiums are falling somewhere in the middle as compared to the rest of the state.  That’s according to a new report from progressive group Citizen Action of Wisconsin.  It compares health insurance rates in different regions statewide.

It finds Madison tends to rank lowest, while the highest premiums are found in the Milwaukee area and in far Northwestern Wisconsin. 

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

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. 

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. 

The Mercer Public Library is holding a series of info sessions on the Affordable Care Act this week.  Several certified health exchange navigators will be there to help explain the online marketplace.

Staff from Iron County UW Extension and area health professionals will present the explanatory sessions on Obamacare this week.  Mercer Library Director Teresa Schmidt says experts will help point individuals in the right direction if they need one-on-one help.        


The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is hosting a seminar Thursday on the Affordable Care Act.

Director Lara Reed says many questions still exist about how the law will affect businesses and individuals...



"....a presentation about some of the basics as far as the exchange goes. Specifically more geared toward those that are individually insured. Those (persons) who don't have insurance through work, a spouse, or someone else...."

Kevin Kane

He said a many Americans had either been locked out of getting healthcare because of pre-existing conditions, or had to pay higher rates. He says women paid more because of pregnancy and other issues, but starting January 1, not anymore...


"....women on average are charged about one-and-a-half times more, on average, than a 22 year old male. Women are more responsible than men. You go to the doctor more, you get checkups more, you tend to get pregnant more, but that's a whole other issue..."

St. Augustine's Church in Rhinelander is hosting a public information meeting on the Affordable Care Act Tuesday

Kevin Kane from Citizen Action of Wisconsin will field questions about how the plan...sometimes known as ObamaCare.... at St. Augustine's Guild Hall on Pelham Street in Rhinelander Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Beginning October 1, the public could begin making choices regarding the Wisconsin Health Exchanges. Kane will discuss the mechanics of the plan and those sponsoring the event say it is not designed to debate the pros and cons of the law.

It’s launch day for Wisconsin’s health exchange.  Individuals will be able to compare and shop for health insurance plans online.  One of the many questions raised by changes to the health care system…is what will happen to private insurance agents…now that people have easy access to purchase insurance directly.  WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski sat down called up private insurance agent Brian Diel, and found out he’s not too worried.

The Wisconsin Counties Association voted this week in disapproval of the state’s rejection of extra federal funding for Medicaid.  Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf, Senior Legislative Associate for Wisconsin Counties Association, says the vote reaffirmed a position the group has held since 2011.

“As counties, when we all have the same position, when we all talk from one voice, it really provides support for our issues.”

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

State officials visited Rhinelander today to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act.  

About 30 people gathered in the conference room of the public safety complex in hopes of clearing up often-hazy understandings of changes to come.  One of those people was Mike Barnes, who says he and his wife purchase their own insurance.