Health Care Help

Navigating the Healthcare Marketplace successfully

CREATED Mar 19, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Alan Romain is happy to be active, and to feel good about his health again.  That wasn't the case a year ago.  He says, "I think a lot of people, they get in a situation, can't afford to pay doctor bills, can't afford to pay for tests, can't afford medications." 

You see, Alan lost his job, and his health insurance.  Finding an affordable plan was impossible, especially since he has Type II diabetes.  "My blood sugars went way up, and I couldn't even go to the doctor to find out what my average blood sugars were because I had a pre-existing condition at that point, and they wouldn't pay for all the tests."  

So Alan started enrolling for a Healthcare Marketplace Plan. He was pleasantly surprised.

"There are a few glitches in the system, but I think overall it works alright," Alan says.

So far, more than 5 million people have enrolled for coverage under the new healthcare law.  The website has faced some criticism, but local public benefits case manager and enrollment specialist Chris Weeden, says it's not as scary as you may think. "It really is just follow the steps.  The website is very intuitive as far as you know, if you answer a question a certain way, it knows where to go from there."  

The key is to be prepared.   Weeden says have your family's social security numbers handy, and make sure you know what you want in a plan.  He adds, "From there you're able to pick out a plan that best suits the needs of you and your family."   

Alan now has insurance through the Marketplace.  He says the cost is pretty comparable to his past plans, but he likes that the new plan does not penalize him for a 'pre-existing' condition.  According to him, "If you have previous health problems you can still be covered, and you can still get the testing you need, the medical advice, and help you need." 

Alan hopes his story inspires others to take charge of their health.  Whether it's through the Marketplace, or a different plan.  "It's not really that bad." Alan admits, "You really have to keep in mind what your health condition is, and what kind of insurance you need.  What's best for you."

The deadline for signing up for the Affordable Care Act is March 31st.  A lot of people have questions, so TODAY'S TMJ4 is hosting a 'Health Care Help' phone bank, this Thursday from 3 to 7.  Local experts will answer your questions.