Obamacare to Raise Wisconsin Health Insurance Rates more than 50 percent

MacIver News Service | September 3, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Insurance costs will increase an average of 51 percent in Wisconsin under the Obamacare exchanges according to an analysis by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance released Tuesday morning.

Ironically, President Barack Obama said the exchanges were having the opposite effect during a speech in California this summer. “Competition and choice are pushing down costs in the individual market just like the law was designed to do,” the president said on June 7th.

However, that’s not how it’s playing out in Wisconsin.

“With that said, from our analysis, it appears premiums will increase for most consumers. And, while there is no question that some consumers will have subsidies and may not pay these higher rates,” Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel said. “Someone will pay for the increased premiums whether it is the consumer or the federal government.”

The MacIver News Service began contacting state lawmakers immediately after OCI released its findings.

“It is shocking, but not surprising. The unstated goal of Obamacare was to destroy private sector insurance, and that is what will happen. Our country is in for a very rocky ride until hopefully Obamacare is repealed in 2017,” Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) told the MNS.

Dave Jensen, Editorial Director at HCTrends, a Milwaukee-based health care research organization, also wasn’t surprised by the news.

“This is similar to what we have been seeing and hearing and is going to come as a shock to the 225,000 Wisconsin adults who currently have individual policies. Many of them are likely to drop coverage, which will increase the number of uninsured,” he said. “These premium increases are also going to come as a shock to taxpayers since much of the increased cost will be paid by the federal government due to the way exchange policies are subsidized. The cost of health care reform is going to be much higher than what taxpayers were told.”

The exchanges were included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a one-stop-shop to compare and purchase private health insurance. According to healthcare.gov, these exchanges are “a new way to find health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs.”

Although the federal government encouraged states to establish and manage the exchanges, it did not have the authority to require it. And so in Wisconsin, Governor Walker and the legislature opted out, forcing the feds to take responsibility for the exchange.

Enrollment in the exchanges is set to begin on October 1st. Coverage is then scheduled to go in effect on January 1, 2014. That will be the first year people without insurance could be fined.