UPDATE: United Way to cover some Obamacare premiums - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: United Way program to cover Obamacare premiums for low-income people

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A new program paid for by UW Health and run by the United Way of Dane County will cover the health insurance premiums of up to 6100 low-income residents who enroll in the federal exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

UW Health made a $2 million contribution, the largest single financial gift ever received by United Way of Dane County, to start the Health Connect program.

"I have to tell you, honestly, I was stunned when they called," said Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County.

Health Connect is designed to assist about 7,300 Dane County residents whose income falls between 100-133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

By rejecting a federal expansion of Medicaid called for under Obamacare, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) limited coverage through the state's BadgerCare program to people at or below 100% of FPL.  That is equal to an annual income of $11,490 a year for an individual or $23,550 for a family of four.

That means people earning between 100-133% of FPL will lose their BadgerCare benefits at the end of the year and will have to enroll for private insurance through the federal exchange.

Howard says the $2 million dollar gift from UW Health will cover the insurance premiums for about 84% of that population for one year.  But she does not anticipate that large of a percentage will apply for Health Connect services, which means they should be able to cover all of the applicants who want help.

Those eligible for Health Connect will already save some money on their premiums through government subsides offered through the exchange.

"First they would get the subsidy from the federal government and then this would cover the portion that the federal government doesn't pay," said Howard.  "We figured out the average was gonna be about $268 dollars a year, that's for somebody at about 116 percent of poverty."

UW Health Officials say the $2 million is coming out of their annual revenues.

"This success is due largely to a lot of people in Dane County, so we feel like giving back the fruits of that success to our community will come back to us ten-fold," said Donna Katen-Bahensky, President & CEO of UW Hospital and Clinics.

You can find out more about Health Connect by clicking here.

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