Counselors expect to see steady numbers sign up for health - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Counselors expect to see steady numbers sign up for health insurance before deadline


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – It's been about a week and a half since people's policy took effect if they signed up for insurance on the healthcare marketplace,

And those people must pay their premium by Jan. 10 to keep it in effect, according to Michael Richards, executive director of external affairs for Gundersen Health System.

"It's very confusing. I think the deadline shifting has caused people to wait 'til the last minute to purchase something," Richards said.

Because of marketplace web site glitches, counselors have seen a surge in the number of people who signed up for healthcare in December.

But they don't expect too big of a lull since the final deadline to get coverage for 2014 is March 31.

"Can you tell me a little about your situation? Why you're currently seeking insurance," Susan Silberschmidt asked.

She asks that question about four times a day, and until open enrollment for the healthcare marketplace closes, she expects to ask it dozens of times each week.

"People are just overwhelmed at the idea of working with this at all," Silberschmidt said.

It's partially because people are dealing with insurance, partially because the healthcare web site has had its share of issues.

In the first couple of months, the site was slow and would crash.

Silberschmidt said she'd barely see people signing up.

There was a bump in enrollment before the Christmas Eve deadline.

"I think nationally, the trend has been lower than expected or touted," Richards said. "But, you know, we've kinda kept our numbers more conservative knowing that there's gonna be some hiccups in the first year."

The Obama administration said about 2.1 million people have signed up by the end of the year. That's about a million people short from what they estimated.

"We are still taking applications, still walking people through the marketplace," Silberschmidt said."

But this application counselor does expect to see more people seeking her help before the final deadline: March 31.

The Western Region Enrollment Network said so far La Crosse County has helped 450 people sign up for health insurance. Of that number, 150 have signed up during a mass enrollment in December.

WREN will host another week-long enrollment event at the La Crosse County Administrative Center at 400 4th St. N in the basement, in the IT Training and Testing Room.

The sessions are Monday, Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday, Jan. 14 to Friday, Jan. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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