UpFront: Top state official emphasizes importance of March 31 insurance deadline

Time is running out for residents seeking healthcare insurance through the federal exchange, warns state Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel.

“The one thing I couldn’t impress upon people more is that March 31st, the store closes,” Nickel told “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” a statewide TV public affairs program produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com . “It’s critical now that if you want to purchase health insurance, you do it by the end of this month.”

After enrollment closes at the end of the month, the exchange will close until the next open enrollment period begins in mid-November, for coverage starting January 2015.

Nickel said enrollment numbers in Wisconsin are “pretty successful” compared to other states. He said around 47,000 residents have signed up through the exchange, and another 7,800 have obtained insurance on the private market, predicting those numbers will grow by the end of March.

“I would suspect, like most people, they kind of wait for the last minute if they feel like they didn’t need health insurance but now are required to,” Nickel said. “I suspect we’ll see a little bit of an uptick.”

Despite encouraging enrollment numbers and an improved user experience, Nickel said the federal site, Healthcare.gov, is still experiencing technical problems. He described cases of incorrect plan information or communication issues delaying or disrupting full enrollment.

“We’re seeing issues from the consumers’ perspective, and we’re also seeing issues from the carriers’ perspective,” Nickel said. “Yes the federal website is working better … (but there are) issues where the federal website itself is not working very well in connecting with some of the insurers.”

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