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Health & Science

Dozens of Milwaukeeans Sign Up for Affordable Care Act in Second Year

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Marti Mikkelson
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Some Milwaukee residents are signing up for health care coverage as the federal Affordable Care Act enters its second year.

They have until February to enroll. The Washington Park Library has been offering weekly help sessions.

A handful of people are standing in line outside a conference room at the library, waiting to speak with a health insurance representative.

One person looking for a new option is Doreen Weiss of Milwaukee. She gets her health insurance through her employer, but says the cost has skyrocketed in the past year.

“Jan. 14, I went from a $1,500 deductible to $5,000. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even use my health insurance because it’s just not feasible,” Weiss says.

Weiss says she doesn’t know what to expect from today’s session. She says she’s heard stories about coverage under the Affordable Care Act actually costing more, than if she were to stay in her employer’s plan. Mary Boehme thinks ACA would be a much better deal.

“Because I will be joining a larger group of folks which means rates should be going down, rather than the group I’m with right now which is small and very expensive,” Boehme says.

Another person here today is Danielle, who didn’t want to give her last name. She’s 25 and will soon be going off her parents’ health care plan. The Affordable Care Act allows young people to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, then they have to enter the marketplace on their own.

Danielle says she’s not scared off by stories of last year’s launch of the program. Technical glitches caused long delays while scores of people were trying to access the ACA website, healthcare.gov. She says she thinks enrollment will be a much smoother process this year.

“In the beginning it might seem kind of inconvenient but I think the idea overall is good and that eventually, this is going to help drive down our health care costs,” Danielle says.

Health insurance representatives have been using the Washington Park Library to help people sign up each Monday beginning this month. Library Manager Anthony Frausto says he’s been fielding questions too, from people who stop in.

“If there’s any help to sign up, or questions about taxes. There’s questions about if I don’t do it, am I going to get taxed on it,” Frausto says.

Frausto says one thing he’s noticed is, people don’t seem as fearful of ACA this year, as they were last. Several new plans are being offered in 2015, while others have changed or been discontinued.