Representatives from the four health insurance companies selling plans to Milwaukee County residents on the Affordable Care Act marketplace said they are upbeat about the future of ACA at a forum hosted by the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin.
“I am absolutely positive that a lot of people are going to be helped,” said Keenan Jones, sales consultant at WPS Health Insurance. Arise Health Plan, a wholly owned subsidiary of WPS, is offering insurance plans on the health insurance marketplace. Jones and his team are seeing strong demand for information about the new health insurance plans, he said.
Elizabeth Benz, director of community outreach at Molina Healthcare of Wisconsin, agreed. “We are optimistic about the Affordable Care Act. We think it’s going to be a good thing for people and we think the system is going to work in the long run.”
The ACA was designed with a focus on consumers’ needs, according to Daren Allen, vice president of business development at the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative. Elements such as standardized “essential health benefits” that every insurance company must cover, required coverage for all applicants and caps on out-of-pocket costs make the new plans appealing, Allen said. Under the traditional insurance system, “because there’s so much ‘gotcha’ language” consumers often don’t know what is covered until they make claims, he said.
“It’s a completely different paradigm [under the ACA],” Allen said. Beginning in January, the increased access to health care will improve health among Americans overall and “ultimately, it’s really to the benefit of the consumer and long term, to the benefit of our entire society,” Allen added.
Approximately 100 community members attended the forum, according to Clarene Mitchell, BHCW communication director. Some said they were gathering information for family, friends and other community members. Others are health care or social service providers or community leaders.
Janetha Johnson, a nurse, was listening carefully and taking notes. She said people are coming to her with questions about the new insurance plans, “so, I am educating myself.”
Rosie Caradine-Lewis, known in the community as ‘Mama Rosie,’ asked the panel if there is a way to protect her children from financial hardship brought on by her end-of-life health care. She was worried, she said, because her husband’s care has decimated her savings. The panel assured her that lifetime limits on health insurance coverage will be eliminated under the Affordable Care Act.
Paul Nobile, regional vice president of sales and account management, Compcare Health Services Insurance Corp. also participated on the panel. Compcare is selling insurance on the marketplace to Milwaukee County residents under its trade name, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, 3020 W. Vliet St., received an ACA Navigator grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The grant allows BHCW to provide outreach and education about the Affordable Care Act to Milwaukee County residents. BHCW also is providing training to other organizations and assisting with enrollment.