Navigator program manager impressed with open enrollment signups

Caroline Gomez-Tom, navigator program manager for Covering Wisconsin, says she’s impressed with how many individuals signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplace in last year’s open enrollment period.

“We essentially signed up 95 percent of last year in half the time,” she told “I’m glad we could have that kind of reach.”

Both nationally and in Wisconsin, the most recent enrollment period saw nearly as many signups as the year before, despite the shorter window and with less funding for getting people educated and signed up.

“I can’t help but to think, ‘What if?'” she said. “How many would we have been able to do if we had until the end of this month to sign people up?”

She attributes the improved turnout to community partnerships developed over the past year; those partnerships helped raise awareness and spread the reach of Covering Wisconsin, which currently covers about 12 counties in the southeast and central parts of the state. She gives credit to health plans, health systems, community organizations, youth clubs, and even local grocery stores and barber shops handing out informational flyers.

“All partners came up to bat for us and made it possible to sign up as many people as were able to,” Gomez-Tom said, noting some partners were able to help secure additional funding.

The program’s funding in Wisconsin was cut 42 percent for last year’s open enrollment, and though contributing groups weren’t able to make up the full difference, she says they did provide a small boost in the right direction. These groups include Madison and Dane County, Milwaukee Health Care Partnership and United Way in Milwaukee and in Waukesha.

See an earlier story on ACA enrollment: