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Questions abound as online healthcare exchanges set to open

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- 90,000 Wisconsinites are expected to shop online for new health insurance -- and the online exchanges open Tuesday, October 1st. Wisconsin's health insurance commissioner says the state will be ready when the exchanges are up and running. However, there are still a lot of questions -- from the political to the personal.

As officials in Washington continue to debate and argue, Wisconsin is preparing for Day One of the new federal healthcare law.

Impact 211 runs a call service for family, social and health needs.

"Impact 211 is the perfect place to help people navigate through this new process," Vickie Boneck said.

The healthcare overhaul is mainly a concern for people who don't already have health insurance. Health advocates say the key date is actually December 15th -- not October 1st. December 15th is the deadline to get coverage that would begin on January 1st.

"I think there is quite a bit of anxiety about the Affordable Care Act because people are not sure of what they need to do, so that's why we're happy to be serving as the central access point for basic information to help them get set on the right path," Boneck said.

At Froedtert, one of southeastern Wisconsin's largest employers and largest providers of healthcare, folks are working to ensure a smooth transition to the Affordable Care Act's online exchanges.

"That's a big, big, big challenge for all of us -- just getting the communication out. Just making sure people know there is a change of what their options are is our biggest concern right now," Froedtert Health CEO Cathy Jacobson said.

And when people have questions, Impact 211 operators will be standing by with answers.

"This will be going on for months and months as things roll out because there are still pieces falling into place, but that's our role to help monitor information and disseminate it to our callers as things progress," Boneck said.

Experts say it is hard to give blanket advice, because each person's situation is going to be different.

However, if there is one thing that could benefit anyone looking for new insurance on the exchanges, it's to start looking early, and get questions answered as soon as possible.

If you miss the December 15th deadline, you could be out of luck!