September 2, 2014

Report details options in insurance exchanges

A new report says most people in Wisconsin will have several health care options under the new Obamacare health marketplace. The state Insurance Commissioner’s office released a list of insurance providers in the new marketplace earlier this month, but did not release information on the geographic reach of each plan. Robert Craig with Citizen Action of Wisconsin said his organization’s report, released Thursday, provides details.

This report will give people a much better sense of what choices will actually be out there for individual consumers in every part of Wisconsin,” said Craig. “Ninety-eight-point-nine percent of all Wisconsin citizens will have at least three insurance companies available for them,” said Kevin Kane, Healthcare Organizer for Citizen Action and the report’s author. And since each company will offer ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ level plans, that should mean plenty of choices, with the same percentage of people having a minimum of six plans to choose from, he said.

Governor Scott Walker and fellow Republicans passed on setting up a state-based insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, opting instead to have the federal government run the program. Walker said this week that Wisconsin is moving ahead with plans to start implement new health insurance exchanges on October first, despite concerns that the federal government could delay implementation, much like it did with a mandate for employers earlier this year. “I don’t see any sign of that, and so our expectation is that the exchanges will still be up and running,” he said.  Others have disputed those predictions.

Walker said he continues to have concerns about what individual insurance buyers will have to pay for coverage. “Obamacare was sold as the Affordable Care Act, and by just about any measure, it’s anything but affordable,” he said. “The American Society of Actuaries has laid out that in Wisconsin’s case, it could go up as much as 82 percent for individual health insurance premiums by 2017.”

For now though, the Citizen Action report indicates consumers will have choices when enrollment begins. “There’s been a lot of negative information put out, a lot of scare tactics. But look, we’re about to have enrollment October 1st, and there are going to be a lot of choices,” Craig said. The report shows insurance choices available in all 72 counties and ranks the top 13 metro areas in Wisconsin based on the amount of competition.