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'When you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up': Fox Valley organization is offering free help with open enrollment

Open enrollment lasts until January 15, but you need to sign up by December 15 if you want coverage starting January 1.
Health Care Sign-ups
Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 20:40:08-05

WISCONSIN (NBC 26) — The cost of health care and health insurance is on a lot of people's minds through this pandemic.

And when you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up.

According tohealthcare.gov, a broken leg can cost up to $7,500.

While a three-day hospital stay can be around $30,000.

'When you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up': Fox Valley organization is offering free help with open enrollment

So if you or your family don't have health insurance, how can you get coverage?

We break down the open enrollment process.

It’s that time of year where millions of Americans are signing up for health insurance.

'When you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up': Fox Valley organization is offering free help with open enrollment

"If you don't have health insurance in place it can be very costly or you avoid it all together,” said Julia Garvey the Health Insurance Navigator for Partnership Community Health Center.

And if you don't currently have it, experts stress that there are affordable options.

Garvey works as the health insurance navigator for Partnership Community Health Center.

It's a nonprofit which also offers free help to families looking for health insurance.

"Some people may know it by the marketplace, or the exchange, or Obama Care. It all means the same thing. It means you can pick out a plan and you don't need a qualifying life event,” Garvey said.

She helps simplify the process of enrolling on healthcare.gov, helping you understand the costs and answering your questions.

These are high-quality plans that cover everything from doctor visits to preventative services to hospital care and much more.

'When you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up': Fox Valley organization is offering free help with open enrollment

All part of the Affordable Care Act law.

This year there are more plans than ever to choose from.

She says there are about 110 plans to choose from with options and details that can quickly get overwhelming.

Garvey goes on to say that many people don’t understand the premium tax credit that reduces what they pay on any plan they choose. She said people often see the huge amount of assistance and mistake that for the amount they would need to pay.

"Many people don't understand the savings on the marketplace. They might see a number that shows the premium tax credit which is the amount that you will save on your premium and think that's the amount they are being asked to pay for their health insurance,” Garvey said.

For instance you could pay a zero premium for a bronze plan but they cost you more if you actually want or need to go to the doctor.

For a few dollars more a silver plan can provide smaller co-pay's and deductibles and reduce your overall costs.

"People are being more aware of their health these days and people want to have the choice to be healthy and having health insurance really provides you with that financial stability,” Garvey said.

She warns people that if you Google ‘health insurance’ and don't go directly to the healthcare.gov website, you could be bombarded by calls from people trying to sell you insurance.

So who all are the people who are looking for insurance?

Garvey says everyone needs help with insurance. From people who work at multiple jobs that don’t offer health insurance, people who work in bars or restaurants, those who are self employed, young adults who are no longer on their parents insurance, and a ton of older adults who are considering retirement and wonder if they can afford health insurance until they go on Medicare.

And while it’s no longer required by law to have health insurance, Garvey says people are choosing to stay enrolled because they want to be able to go to the doctor and not get hit by huge medical bills.

People are interested in the free preventive care like a physical or mammogram, affordable prescriptions like insulin or high blood pressure medication and access to specialty care and counseling.

If you have questions or want to further understand your costs she says navigators like herself can offer free help.

'When you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up': Fox Valley organization is offering free help with open enrollment

You can call the Partnership Community Health Center’s health insurance enrollment department at 920-882-6420 or dial the United Way 2-1-1 resource center and they will transfer you right over.

There’s help in all languages.

And when it comes to COVID-19 coverage, the CDC offers this advice:

'When you don't have health insurance those costs can really add up': Fox Valley organization is offering free help with open enrollment

Before an appointment, call your doctor's office and tell them you don't have insurance.

Remember many COVID-related coverage should be covered at no cost.

Testing, vaccines, even treatment-related visits to an emergency room should be covered.

If you get a bill, contact your medical provider.

Open enrollment lasts until January 15, but you need to sign up by December 15 if you want coverage starting January 1.