Wisconsin health insurance estimates called into question

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Health insurance predictions questioned by advocacy groups

The Wisconsin government has released information this week that provides an estimate for the rates associated with health insurance plans that will be sold through the state’s exchange system. This exchange will begin open enrollment on October 1, with policies sold through the exchange going active on January 1 of 2014. The exchange is meant to be a place where consumers can find affordable health insurance policies. The problem, however, is that some health care advocacy groups are calling into question whether the estimates provided by the state government are accurate.

Exchange expected to enroll 500,000 people this year

Approximately 500,000 people throughout the state are expected to enroll within the exchange in order to find affordable health insurance policies this year. Some 400,000 of these people do not currently have any form of coverage. Those without insurance typically cannot attain coverage because of its expensive nature. The exchange may help alleviate this problem, if the rate estimates coming from officials are accurate. On average, the state expects individual policies for those 21 years-old and older should be slightly less expensive than those currently sold through the private market.

health insurance estimatesRates for coverage may be higher than expected

Citizen Action Wisconsin, a health care advocacy group, has run its own analysis of the estimates provided by the state government. According to the organization, rates for individual health insurance policies are likely to increase by 9.7% for consumers aged 63 and older and 125% for those aged 21 and older. The analysis does not account for subsidies being offered by the federal government, which are meant to help offset the overall cost of health insurance purchased through state-based exchanges. These subsidies could cut the cost of individual policies by as much as 77%.

Some analysis may not account for federal subsidies

Other advocacy groups claim that there is no concrete evidence that suggests rates will be excessively higher than what they are currently. The Wisconsin Council on Children suggests that the information provided by Citizen Action Wisconsin could be misleading because it does not account for federal subsidies. Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel has also been urging caution among consumers interested in researching insurance, claiming that a fair amount of misinformation is currently available. The Commissioner also notes that the health insurance subsidies provided by the federal government will not be universally available as they are designed for those that fall below 200% and 400%  of the federal poverty level.

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