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Sign ups for Obamacare more active in northwoods, less in central Wisconsin

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October
A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Some parts of central and northern Wisconsin are seeking assistance to sign up for the Affordable Care Act more than others.

There have been several chances to get help signing up for health insurance through the online marketplace. Bridge Community Health Clinic has four sessions coming up in Rhinelander, providing one-on-one help.

The clinic's Central Wisconsin Enrollment Coordinator Mary Testin says Oneida County residents have been some of the most ready to sign up for health care. "In terms of people calling for appointments, turning out for events. We are having a harder time in some of the other counties in terms of response. It's just not as active as we'd like it to be - I'm very concerned that people aren't taking the March 31st deadline seriously." Bridge Clinic also serves Langlade, Marathon and Portage counties. After the end of March people can't enroll until November, unless unique circumstances trigger a special enrollment period for that individual. Not having health insurance after next month could result in a penalty of at least 95-dollars.

Testin says if a lot of people wait until the last minute to sign up, it could cause problems like overloading the online marketplace. "I'm starting to get concerned that everybody will wait till those last two weeks, and we just can't possibly serve everybody." The first Rhinelander session was scheduled for Monday, President's Day, but the federal enrollment website will be closed for maintenance. That session has been rescheduled for March 14th at the Chamber of Commerce. There are also three sessions at the Rhinelander District Library: February 22nd, March 8th and March 28th.

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