Wyoming health insurance exchange
In sparsely-populated Wyoming, premiums exceed national average
By Louise Norris
November 4, 2013
The federally-run Wyoming health insurance exchange opened on October 1, with 18 plans available from two health insurance carriers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming and WINhealth Partners. Rates in Wyoming are higher than anywhere else in the country, due to a variety of factors including a small number of insurers and a sparse, mostly rural population. The national average for the lowest cost Bronze plan is $249/month, but in Wyoming, it’s $425/month. Enrollment has also been slow, in large part due to the technological problems that have hindered enrollment in all of the states where the exchange is run by the HHS website Healthcare.gov. After the first three weeks of open enrollment, the two carriers offering policies in the Wyoming exchange reported a total of about 30 enrollees, but the number is expected to increase as the web glitches are ironed out and as we get closer to the December 15th deadline to enroll for a January 1 effective date.
Gov. Matt Mead announced in late 2012 that Wyoming would default to the federal health insurance exchange for 2014, with the possibility of moving to a state-run exchange at some unspecified future date.
In 2012, the Wyoming legislature passed a bill requiring a small committee to study the federal government’s implementation and operation of the exchange. The committee will monitor how many state residents use the federal exchange, what problems they encounter, operating costs, and other factors in deciding whether to recommend the state eventually take over operations of the exchange. The committee held its first meeting in April 2013, and the study may take more than two years according to the committee co-chair. This round of study continues the evaluation process started by the Wyoming Health Insurance Exchange Steering Committee, which Mead appointed in 2011.
Wyoming legislators and residents have raised many questions and concerns about health insurance exchanges. The concerns range from practical to political. Some question how an exchange will work in a mostly rural, low-population state. Many in the state are staunchly conservative and oppose the exchange and most anything else associated with ‘Obamacare.’
Wyoming health insurance exchange links
Wyoming Insurance Department
Provides consumer protection and support to Wyoming residents by investigating consumer complaints and resolving issues on insurance matters.
(307) 777-7401 / Toll Free: 1-800-438-5768 / email@example.com
State Exchange Profile: Wyoming
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Wyoming’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.