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30,600 Brown Co. residents will need to buy health insurance

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - State and local officials say they have no idea what to expect tomorrow, when over a half-million Wisconsinites can start signing up for Obama-care. 

Tomorrow is when those without employer coverage can sign up for the federal government's purchasing exchange. 

The deadline to sign up is December 15th, and the coverage takes effect January first. 

The state's largest county, Milwaukee, has around 120-thousand people expected to use the exchange. An estimated 30,600 Brown County residents will need to buy health insurance or face a tax penalty.

Joy Tapper of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership said she feared what would happen if there's a lack of response, because Tuesday is the first day that many people will get details about the exchange. 

State officials say they, too, will be interested in seeing what happens. 

A directory of health insurance navigators is expected to be released Monday or Tuesday.  They will help people with price and coverage comparison of plans available in their area. 

There are also half a dozen certified application counselors in the area who will help and guide people through the online marketplace and online application.

With Republican Governor Scott Walker's opposition to Obama-care, officials have been distant from the formation of the federal exchange. 

Wisconsin and 35 other states refused to set up their own exchanges, and declined additional federal Medicaid funds to do so. 

Democrats said there was no excuse for that, while Walker feared that Wisconsin taxpayers would be left with a huge bill once Washington cuts off its funding.