Wisconsin health insurance exchange
Wisconsin health insurance premiums twice as high as rates in neighboring Minnesota
By Louise Norris
November 3, 2013
The HHS-run exchange in Wisconsin opened on October 1, but has struggled with the same technological glitches that have hampered federally-run exchanges across the country – as of mid-October, there were an estimated 50 enrollments in the exchange, with an unknown number of people unable to get through the online application process. In addition, the organizations that received federal funding to provide assistance with the enrollment process have been delayed in starting their work; funding didn’t arrive until mid-August and additional certification requirements were imposed on navigators by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.
Thirteen health insurance carriers are offering policies in the Wisconsin exchange. But despite the robust competition, rates are relatively high. The average premium for the lowest-cost bronze plan in Wisconsin is $287, compared with $249 nationally. In late October, Citizen Action of Wisconsin created a report highlighting the very different ACA paths taken by Minnesota and Wisconsin, and placed some of the blame for Wisconsin’s high rates on the fact that the state ultimately took a hands-off approach to the exchange and also refused to expand Medicaid. Rates in Wisconsin are double the rates of neighboring Minnesota.
Gov. Scott Walker had previously expressed a preference for a state-run exchange rather than a “one size fits all” federally operated exchange. In 2011, Walker used an executive order to create the Office of Free Market Health Care to plan for a Wisconsin exchange. Walker’s plan for a “free-market, consumer driven approach” leaned heavily on an insurance marketplace implemented by former Gov. Jim Doyle. According to one state insurance expert, the only notable change proposed by Walker was to put the exchange online.
However, Walker showed a changed mindset in 2012, returning a $38 million federal grant and closing the Office of Free Market Health Care. In announcing his November 2012 decision to accept a federally operated exchange, Walker said the state would have no real control and much higher financial risk with a state-run exchange.
According to Kaiser’s statehealthfacts.org, about 10 percent of Wisconsin’s population lacks health insurance — about 560,000 people. An Associated Press story included estimates that about 60 percent of them will gain coverage through the exchange and that 63,000 small employers in the state will use the exchange.
Wisconsin health insurance exchange links
Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
Assists consumers who have purchased insurance on the individual market or who have insurance through an employer who only does business in Wisconsin.
(800) 236-8517 / email@example.com
State Exchange Profile: Wisconsin
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Wisconsin’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.