Confused about health insurance? For the Open Enrollment Period, You Need Someone Like Quentella Perry in Your Life

Regardless of the source of health insurance, almost everyone is confused about it at some level or the other. But Navigators can help guide you through the process. (stock Photo)

When it comes to health insurance, certainty can seem to be in short supply.

Meet Quentella Perry, whose work with the nonprofit Covering Wisconsin involves helping people plow through complications. Just as accountants have a busy season during tax time, people like Perry are out in full force to help people navigate the options offered during the open enrollment period from November 1 to January 15.

The open enrollment period is a period of time during which people can change or sign up for a health insurance plan — either through their employer or the federal health insurance marketplace, if they qualify for those subsidies. .

Outside this time period, people can enroll in plans only under certain circumstances, including getting a new job, getting married or having a child. State-run Medicaid programs such as Wisconsin’s BadgerCare Plus can enroll throughout the year if one meets the criteria.

Regardless of the source of health insurance, however, nearly everyone is confused about it to some degree.


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That’s where Perry and people like him come in.

Perry will clear up that confusion.

She will answer your questions.

She’ll walk you through the steps.

You will emerge from your meeting with an insurance plan that best meets your needs.

Perry is a licensed health insurance navigator at Covering Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization based out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that educates people about health insurance and helps them choose a plan. It operates throughout the state, including Milwaukee.

Covering Wisconsin is part of a coalition of organizations and agencies working to increase enrollment among all residents, but especially those who are uninsured.

According to data provided by the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, there are 55,000 uninsured people in Milwaukee County, and about 35,000 of them live in the city. The nonprofit partners with health care providers, government agencies, and community organizations to serve vulnerable residents.

Other organizations that employ sailors to help Milwaukee residents include the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, Progressive Community Health Center and Feeding America.

more than a job

Perry, 40, was born and raised in Milwaukee. She has been a sailor for four years but prior to that was a Certified Application Consultant or CAC for many years.

Quentella Perry, a lifelong Milwaukee resident and licensed health insurance navigator at Covering Wisconsin, answers basic questions about coverage and enrollment at a March 19 outreach event. (Photo provided by Coverings Wisconsin)

A CAC is a position that works within a medical setting, such as a hospital, to assist patients when they apply for health insurance. CACs often convert to sailors. Navigators have more experience and can assist CACs when they encounter particularly complex or challenging cases.

“This is my passion. I believe education is important. Educating individuals within the community is important. It is something I love to do, and it is the reason I continue to do this work,” Perry said.

“We don’t get commission; All information we provide is unbiased. Our services are free to individuals,” she said. “A lot of agents are brokers – they work on commission – and individuals have a hard time ascertaining whether they have their best interests in mind.”

Cheryl Isabel, Milwaukee Community Engagement Lead at Covering Wisconsin, said education should always be a sailor’s first goal.

“To understand what a premium is… to explain to them what a copay is. If you’ve never had insurance, or had to pay for health insurance coverage, you don’t know,” Isabelle said.

Keeping track of all the information and documents can be difficult — even for someone who is fluent in the process.

Gerald L. “It’s very confusing,” said Winona Grieger, a navigator at the Ignace Indian Health Center. “Every person you work with – it’s never the same. Everything’s always different.

“After the client understands all these moving parts,” said Isabelle, “then we discuss the various plans.”

officials urge you to enroll

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has sent out “calls to action” to organizations such as Covering Wisconsin.

The mandate is simple: enroll, enroll, enroll.

The reason for the call to action, in addition to the number of uninsured people, is additional financial support for health coverage that was not available in previous years.

If people have “looked before and just didn’t choose health insurance coverage because it wasn’t affordable for them,” Isabel said, they should look again.

Another big change is deciding what insurance professionals call “the family mess.”

“If you’re employed, your employer may offer health insurance coverage, but it’s only affordable for the employee — a family plan may be unaffordable,” Isabelle said. Until now, those family members were not eligible for alternative assistance through the Marketplace, which meant that the option of insuring one’s family members was prohibitively expensive through an employer or without financial assistance through the Marketplace. Was in between without planning.

“Now that the family impoundment is fixed, family members have the opportunity to get those tax credits[through the marketplace]so now the whole family can be insured,” Isabel said.

Another concern of particular urgency to sailors is the potential end of the federal public health emergency that allowed people covered by BadgerCare Plus to keep coverage regardless of changes in their income or household size. BadgerCare Plus recipients are also not required to update their information, which under normal circumstances is required every 12 months.

When the public health emergency eventually ends, recipients will need to update their information and reevaluate to determine whether they can maintain their coverage.

Although the public health emergency has been extended 11 times since its original declaration in January 2020 and is currently extended through January 11, many health care professionals anticipate its end in the coming year.

“Many people are used to being helped through the state program, and with everyone going back to work and everyone becoming employed, some individuals will potentially lose their coverage, as they lose income. are over the limit,” Perry said.


for more information

To make an appointment with a navigator at one of several agencies, you can use this online tool, hosted by Covering Wisconsin.

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