Less than 50 Sign Up for Obamacare in Wisconsin

MacIver News Service | October 14, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] The Department of Health and Human Services is still not capable of providing official numbers, but after calling every insurer on the exchange in Wisconsin, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance discovered “minimal participation.”

The number of people who have signed up for individual plans in Wisconsin through the online exchange is “under 50,” according to Dan Schwartzer, deputy commissioner at OCI.

Schwartzer said that figure is “really a guess,” because there are no official numbers available from the feds. OCI had to call up each insurance company individually to get the information.

The federal government’s data hub, which should eventually provide the official, exact numbers, has been down since day 1. Schwartzer said it’s not due to the shutdown or because Wisconsin did not set up its own separate exchange.

“The system would still be down,” he said to the MacIver News Service.

OCI called up each of the 13 insurers listed on the exchange in Wisconsin for individual plans.

There are 12 other insurers for individual plans throughout the state who are not participating in the exchanges. Schwartzer said that’s due mostly to fees and risk for the insurers.

First of all, an insurer has to pay a 3.5 percent fee to be listed on the exchanges. Then there is a lot of trust involved in the subsidies. An individual would only pay a portion of the premiums to the insurer, and then the rest would come in the form of subsidies from the federal government through the IRS.

“There is some risk for the insurers on the exchange that the subsidies will flow properly,” Schwartzer explained. “Some felt it was worth it, others didn’t.”

“A lot of insurers were nervous,” he said.

Schwartzer said while half of the insurers providing individual plans are listed on the exchanges, only about a third of those offering group plans are listed.