Comparison-shopping for health insurance in Wisconsin pays off in lower premium rates and better fit in terms of benefits, so always investigate several insurers before making your decision. Learning your rights will make this process easier.

Important considerations include your choice of primary care physician and any preexisting conditions that you may have. Some preexisting conditions (any medical condition that you have received diagnosis or treatment for in the last six months is considered a preexisting condition) may not be covered for a certain period after you enroll in the plan. Pregnancy cannot be considered a preexisting condition.

Primary care physicians are members of the plan in which you enroll, as well as specialty care providers, who are generally referred by your primary care physician. You may have the right to change your primary provider; terms for doing so are set by your health insurance plan.

In Wisconsin, you have the right to cancel your policy for a full refund within 10 days after receiving it if you are not satisfied for any reason. In Wisconsin, a Medicare Supplement or Select policy, or a long-term care policy can be returned within 30 days to receive a full refund. This provides peace of mind and prevents you from feeling of pressure in this all-important purchase.

The Wisconsin Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP) provides high quality, affordable health care to Wisconsin residents whose medical conditions make it impossible for them to find health insurance coverage from private companies, and to individuals who have lost their employer-sponsored group health insurance. This valuable coverage option offers a variable deductible and premium rates for excellent coverage. Certain criteria must be met in order to qualify for HIRSP. Call 800-828-4777 for more information.

BadgerCare is a state program that provides comprehensive health benefits to low-income working families in finding affordable health insurance. Your income must fall within prescribed limits, you must have children under age 19 living with you, and you must have no other health insurance. Benefits are free or available for a premium based on your family's income. To learn more, call 800-362-3002.