Tag Archives: healthcare.gov

HealthCare.gov rates to rise in Wisconsin

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department says the cost of its benchmark plan on HealthCare.gov will go up less in Wisconsin than the national average.

Silver plan rates will go up 4.7 percent here, compared with 7.5 percent nationally. 

The rates came out on Oct. 26 on the website established under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Next year’s sign-up session starts Sunday, and potential enrollees are now able to browse plans and prices.

Rates in some states climbed by double digits, but others saw a decline. 

Insurers in many states had underpriced plans and are raising rates because of inflation and higher claims than expected. 

Nationally, about 8 in 10 returning customers will be able to buy a plan for less than $100 a month, after tax credits.

Open enrollment for health insurance begins in Wisconsin

Wisconsin residents started shopping for coverage on the federally run health insurance exchange when its second open enrollment period began Nov. 15.

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance says about 166,000 people signed up for insurance during the open enrollment period that ended March 31. Health care experts say they expect about the same number this time.

The online marketplace is meant for people who aren’t covered by employer-offered insurance plans or government programs, such as Medicare and BadgerCare, the Medicaid program in Wisconsin.

The marketplace offers subsidized private insurance for single people earning about $47,000 or less per year and families with incomes of up to $128,000.

People must sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage to start Jan. 1.

Citizen Action: Walker administration withholds health insurance rates

The Walker Administration — for the second consecutive year — is withholding the rates for the health insurance marketplace, according to Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

The group says the administration is leaving consumers, health advocates and policymakers in the dark and it called on the Wisconsin Office of the Insurance Commissioner to promptly release the figures. 

The deadline for 2015 rate submission for insurance companies selling marketplace plans in Wisconsin was June 27.

At that time, the OCI said it would need up to 60 days to analyze the rates.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin says two-thirds of states have released 2015 rates for healthcare.gov, in advance of the open enrollment period that begins on Nov. 15.

“Last year the Walker Administration tried to use the rate release process to spin the numbers and make misleading attacks on health care reform,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “We are growing concerned that the Walker Administration will either withhold the 2015 rates until after the election, or attempt to release them in a biased and partisan fashion. Consumers and health advocates have a right to know what the insurance rates will be, and how Wisconsin stacks up with other states.”

The Republican governor, who is running for re-election against Democrat Mary Burke in November and who may run for president in 2016, is a staunch opponent of federal Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration’s efforts to expand health care opportunities.

Earlier this year, Citizen Action of Wisconsin released a report showing that marketplace rates in Wisconsin are $251 per year higher on average because of Scott Walker’s decision to reject enhanced funding for Badgercare, and $747 higher on average because of the Walker administration’s refusal to implement what CAW described as a robust rate review.

Health care rollout is a national disgrace

In the initial weeks of full implementation, the Affordable Care Act was marred by computer glitches that left hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of consumers in the lurch. Healthcare.gov, the Web portal established for Americans to purchase health insurance through federal exchanges, is a travesty.

Residents of individual states that created their own insurance exchanges are faring better under the ACA. But the dysfunctional Web portal set up for the federal exchange has let down the citizens of Wisconsin and other states where Republican leaders refused to establish state exchanges.

Americans who are reliant on the exchanges earn 400 percent or less of the federal poverty level. Most of them live in impoverished states. The ACA provides them with subsidies to help pay their insurance premiums, but they must register in order to receive this benefit.

Unfortunately, the majority of people who’ve attempted to register on healthcare.gov have failed. They’ve waited for hours to get on the website, only to find that the system is incapable of finalizing their applications. According to local industry insiders, only about 50 people in southeastern Wisconsin had been able to apply successfully in the first two weeks.

How did this happen? The law was passed three years ago, giving the Obama administration ample time to execute an effective website. By dropping the ball on the president’s signature legislation, his own administration has left millions of people in a panic and thrown a meaty bone to conservatives who argue that government is incapable of managing such complex programs.

We grudgingly supported the ACA, despite our belief that a single-payer system would have been fairer and more cost-effective. But we strongly endorsed the new law’s fundamental features, including: ending the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions; lowering health-care costs by expanding the risk pool and halting the practice of uninsured people using emergency rooms as primary care providers; eliminating lifetime limits on coverage; prohibiting insurers from dropping coverage or raising premiums due to illness; capping annual out-of-pocket medical and drug expenses at $6,400 for individuals and $12,800 for families; and ensuring that children can remain on their parents’ coverage until age 26.

People who can afford their own plans or receive coverage through their employers will enjoy these essential improvements to the system. But low-income citizens who are unable to register for federal subsidies will find the insurance market is out of their reach.

Although the enrollment phase of the program lasts though March, people who don’t register by Dec. 15 could face devastating gaps in their coverage if their current policies expire before their new ones are processed. The Department of Health and Human Services must now work 24/7 to guarantee the website is functioning effectively before that can happen.

And the White House owes the nation more than its initial excuse that the system failed because it was overcome with so many people signing up at once when it went live on Oct. 1. That’s hogwash. Unofficial reports are that testing did not even begin on healthcare.gov until the waning days of September. 

The administration was caught unprepared to implement the most contentious law the nation has seen in decades — a law that cost Democrats control of the House and nearly cost them the presidency. That makes this failure of the White House far more than shoddy — it’s downright terrifying.