Frequently asked questions about health insurance
coverage options in Wyoming
Wyoming does not run its own health insurance marketplace, so Wyoming residents use the federally run marketplace, HealthCare.gov, to enroll in individual/family health plans.
The insurance marketplace is used by people who need to buy their own health insurance. This includes early retirees, the self-employed, and people employed by small businesses that don’t offer health benefits.
People who are eligible for Medicare do not use the marketplace, nor do people who are employed by a company that provides them with health insurance (unless they choose to reject the employer’s coverage offer and buy their own plan instead, although financial assistance with the premiums would not likely be available in that case).
Learn about the history of Wyoming’s health insurance marketplace.
The open enrollment period for 2022 coverage ran from November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022.
Outside of the annual open enrollment window, you’ll need a special enrollment period to enroll in a new plan or make a change to your coverage. Most special enrollment periods are tied to a qualifying life event, although some special enrollment periods (such as the enrollment opportunity for Native Americans, or for people earning under 150% of the poverty level) don’t require a specific life event.
Two insurance companies offer individual/family plans for 2022 in Wyoming’s marketplace, and both have statewide coverage areas:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming
- Mountain Health CO-OP (Montana Health CO-OP)
For 2022 coverage, both of Wyoming’s exchange insurers decreased their average premiums. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming reduced their average rates by 2.2%, while Mountain Health Cooperative reduced theirs by about 6%.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming implemented an average rate decrease of 10% for 2021, and CMS confirmed that average benchmark premiums dropped by 10% in Wyoming (Mountain Health Cooperative was new to the state for 2021, and thus had no applicable rate change).
Wyoming defers to the federal government for the rate review process, so rate filings are authorized and approved by federal regulators rather than the state insurance department (Oklahoma and Texas are the only other states that do not have their own rate review process; Texas will start to review their own rates in 2022, for coverage effective in 2023.).
Read more about Wyoming marketplace health insurance premiums.
During the open enrollment period for 2022 coverage, a record-high 34,762 people enrolled in private plans through Wyoming’s exchange. This was a 30% increase from the year before, when fewer than 27,000 Wyoming residents enrolled in coverage through the exchange during open enrollment.
The record-high enrollment is driven by the American Rescue Plan’s subsidy enhancements, the longer open enrollment period (ending in mid-January instead of mid-December), and the additional federal funding for health insurance outreach and Navigators.
Wyoming is the least populated and the second-least densely populated state, both factors that contribute to higher-than-average health insurance premiums. According to US Census data, the uninsured rate in Wyoming was 13.4% in 2013, which was lower than the 14.5% national average at that point. But by 2019, the state’s uninsured rate stood at 12.3%, which was higher than the 9.2% national average.
Wyoming’s decision not to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid is largely to blame for the smaller-than-average reduction in the uninsured rate. An estimated 20,000 people would become eligible for Medicaid if the state were to expand coverage. That’s nearly 3.5% of the state’s population, and would make a considerable dent in the uninsured rate.
Average individual market premiums for Wyoming health insurance are among the highest in the nation, but that’s calculated before premium subsidies are applied. The subsidies in Wyoming are particularly large due to the high premiums, and after the subsidies are applied, people in many areas can get bronze and even gold plans at no charge, depending on their income.
But for some people who don’t qualify for premium subsidies, coverage can be unaffordable in Wyoming. Subsidies are not available to people in the coverage gap (which would be eliminated if Wyoming were to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid) or for people impacted by the family glitch.
The American Rescue Plan has temporarily eliminated the “subsidy cliff” (which was particularly severe in Wyoming, due to the high cost of insurance), but it will return in 2023 unless Congress takes additional action during 2022.
Wyoming tends to be more conservative and hasn’t embraced the Affordable Care Act – opting for a federally facilitated exchange (HealthCare.gov) and refusing to expand Medicaid.
Former Governor Matt Mead, a Republican, pushed for Medicaid expansion for several years, and regrets the fact that the state still hasn’t expanded Medicaid — a decision that has cost Wyoming hundreds of millions of dollars in missed federal funding and left its poorest residents without any realistic access to health coverage or help with their medical expenses.
In 2017, Cheney voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which was House Republicans’ effort to repeal the ACA. Barrasso and Former Senator Mike Enzi both voted in favor of all three pieces of legislation that GOP senators introduced in an effort to pass ACA repeal in that chamber. None of those bills was successful, however, and the ACA still remains in place. Although opposition to the ACA has been a mainstay for Republicans in Congress, Barrasso and Enzi’s degree of opposition was greater than most. In October 2014, they were both among 14 senators who opposed spending related to the temporary risk corridor program that was built into the ACA in an effort to stabilize the individual markets.
Cheney and Barrasso both won re-election in 2018, and were both elevated to the third-highest-ranking positions for Republicans in their respective chambers. Cheney became the House GOP Conference Chair, and Barrasso the Chair of the Republican Conference in the Senate. (House Republicans subsequently stripped Cheney of her conference chair position due to her rejection of former President Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.)
Former Governor Matt Mead was also generally opposed to the ACA, but has been in favor of Medicaid expansion since 2013, after initially opposing it before that, when states were first considering expansion. Mead has said that although he continues to believe the ACA is bad for Americans, “there is no approach that will extricate us from the ACA. It is upon us and we must act.”
Mead was term-limited and did not run again in 2018. But Governor Mark Gordon, also a Republican, is opposed to Medicaid expansion — a position he continues to hold, despite the fact that three neighboring states (Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah) passed ballot measures to expand Medicaid in the 2018 election.
Although former Governor Mead pushed for Medicaid expansion, Wyoming is currently one of 12 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid eligibility or made progress towards expansion.
A legislative committee approved a Medicaid expansion bill in late 2019, but it died in committee on the first day of the 2020 legislative session, dashing Medicaid expansion hopes for another year. A Senate committee approved Medicaid expansion legislation in 2021, but it did not advance from there. Additional legislation has been backed by the legislative committee in 2022.
Because Wyoming has not expanded Medicaid (and is thus missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding) the state has 12,000 people in the coverage gap, with no access to financial assistance with their health insurance.
These people would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if Wyoming were to accept federal funds to expand coverage under the ACA. In all, about 20,000 people would become newly eligible for Medicaid if the state were to expand coverage, including people with income between 100% and 138% of the poverty level, who are currently eligible for premium subsidies in the exchange.
Learn more about Wyoming’s Medicaid and CHIP coverage and eligibility.
Wyoming defaults to the federal limits for the duration of short-term plans so short-term health insurance in Wyoming can have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to three years. (Insurers can impose stricter rules, with shorter term limits and maximum coverage durations, and are not required to make their short-term plans renewable.)
Learn more about the rules for short-term health insurance in Wyoming.
As of late 2021, there were 118,107 Wyoming residents enrolled in Medicare. Most of these people – 88% – are eligible for Medicare due to their age (at least 65 years old). But the other 12% are eligible for Medicare due to a disability, and are not yet 65 years of age.
Read more about Medicare in Wyoming, including details about Medicare Advantage, Part D, and the state’s rules for Medigap plans.
- Wyoming Department of Insurance — Oversees, licenses, and regulates health insurance companies, insurance agents, and brokers
- Wyoming State Health Insurance Information Program — A local resource that provides information and assistance for Medicare beneficiaries
- Memorial Hospital of Laramie County/Cheyenne Regional — the federally funded Navigator organization in Wyoming
Before the ACA, individual health insurance was underwritten in nearly every state, including Wyoming, which meant that pre-existing conditions could prevent a person from obtaining a policy, or could result in significantly higher premiums or policy exclusions.
The Wyoming Health Insurance Pool (WHIP) was created in 1990 to give people an alternative if they were unable to obtain individual health insurance because of their medical history.
Now that all health insurance plans are guaranteed issue, high-risk pools are largely obsolete. During the 2015 Wyoming Legislature, SF0064 was passed, allowing the Commissioner to dis-enroll risk-pool members who could obtain reasonable coverage elsewhere. This became effective December 31, 2015.
But WHIP is still an important coverage option for Medicare beneficiaries in Wyoming who are under 65 (eligible for Medicare due to a disability) and thus not eligible for guaranteed-issue Medigap coverage.