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Evers Administration: More Health Insurance Options On Tap This Fall

Several Counties See More Plans Available In Health Care Marketplace

Doctor's office
Morgan (CC-BY)

Wisconsinites buying their own health insurance will have more options next year and average premiums are expected to go down for the second year after spiking in previous years.

There will be 13 Wisconsin insurers offering plans on the individual market, which includes Healthcare.gov. The number of insurers is up from 12 in 2019.

State insurance officials made the announcement Thursday ahead of open enrollment, the sign-up period when people can purchase private health insurance on Wisconsin’s federally run marketplace. Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 and goes through Dec. 15.

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“We’re seeing more insurers come in and we’re also seeing those that are in the marketplace expanding into new counties,” said Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable.

Sixty-one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties will have three or more insurance carriers. In 2018, 46 counties offered that many options. An interactive map on the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance website shows which insurers are selling plans for coverage that starts in 2020.

Between 2015 and 2017 several Wisconsin health insurers left the market after medical claims were higher than anticipated. Since then some insurers have returned and many have expanded their coverage to additional counties.

“The marketplace has stabilized quite substantially in the last couple years. Insurers are making money,” explained Donna Friedsam, a health policy director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty. “There were substantial (profit) margins in some cases. In the last year we saw a couple of the insurance carriers giving rebates to consumers.”

The OCI credits a reinsurance program adopted by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker for the expanded coverage. Under the program, the government provides money to insurance providers to pay about 50 percent of claims between $50,000 and $200,000. The reinsurance program will lower the average premium by just over 3 percent, according to state insurance officials.

Enrollment on Healthcare.gov has been falling in recent years — both in the state and across the United States.

The 2019 enrollment on Wisconsin’s federal marketplace was down about 9 percent from 2018. This follows a 7 percent drop from 2017 to 2018.

The declines came after the 12-week signup period was cut in half by the Trump Administration which also decreased outreach money to help people get health coverage.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include original reporting from WPR.