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WI health insurers file rates for Obamacare; cost impacts coming

By   /   August 6, 2013  /   3 Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON – The health insurer filing blitz is on in Obamacare, and the rush has made life harried at the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, according to an OCI official.

The agency on Tuesday announced it has completed its review of rates and forms filed by insurers looking to participate in the federally facilitated health care exchange, under the Affordable Care Act.

Just how ‘affordable’ insurance rates will be won’t be known for another couple of weeks, OIC spokesman J.P. Wieske told Wisconsin Reporter.

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OBAMACARE RATES AWAIT: Several health insurers have filed their rate information and forms with the Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner, but an agency official said it will be a couple of weeks before the cost impacts to consumers will be known.

A Society of Actuaries report earlier this year projected Wisconsin’s underlying claims costs could soar by as much as 80 percent by 2017, second only to Ohio, which could see an 80.9 percent hike.

The Ohio Department of Insurance last week announced last week that individual consumers on the federal government exchange will see insurance premiums, on average, rise 41 percent in 2014, the first year of implementation of Obamacare, compared to this year’s rates. Exchange plans for Ohio’s small businesses will climb by an average of 18 percent.

The agency also confirmed previously released preliminary calculations that insurance companies’ costs to provide individual health coverage will climb 83 percent.

“Ohio has traditionally had a more competitive health insurance market than other states with a wider range of prices and choices – from simple, high deductible coverage to comprehensive, full service plans,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in a statement.  “That level of diversity is essentially outlawed under Obamacare so Ohio’s rates and premiums are going up significantly, and going up more than in other states where prices were already high.”

Insurance experts say the Buckeye and Badger states are similar in the competitiveness of their health insurance markets.

Ohio, does, however, offer a glimmer of hope to Wisconsin.

A report commissioned in 2011 by the Ohio Department of Insurance projected individual premiums could rise by as much as 55 percent to 85 percent in 2014, not including medical trend, typically running at about 7 percent.

The Wisconsin OCI commissioned a report in 2011 that projected insurance rate increases of 31 percent for nearly 60 percent of the individual market.

OCI has reviewed filings from 13 insurers who have requested their plans to be certified in the federal exchange as a qualified health plan, or QHP, in the individual market and nine insurers who have filed plans to participate in the small employer SHOP exchange.

In order to be eligible for the federally facilitated exchange, insurers must meet all state standards and file their rates and forms with the state of Wisconsin, according to the agency. Insurers began filing insurance policies with the state in April. Wisconsin reviewed the rate and form filings to ensure the policies are in compliance with all laws and regulations.

“This is only the first step in the process,” state Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel said in a statement. “Insurers wishing to participate in the federal exchange will need to complete an additional federal review process and sign a contract to participate on the exchange.” That process is expected to be wrapped up in September.

Wieske said the pace at the agency this summer has been frenetic as staff have worked to meet the deadline imposed by the federal government. The OCI spokesman said the new administrative demands of Obamacare won’t cost the agency any more money, but it did compress the usual workflow.

“These are filings we would have to do at some point, but normally we would do them much later in the year,” Wieske said. “It creates some moving around of priorities in order to get what carriers need done in a timely manner.”

The following health insurers have submitted rate and form filings to OCI:

Individual Market Insurance Companies

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative

Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation

Dean Health Plan, Inc.

Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin

Gundersen Health Plan, Inc.

Health Tradition Health Plan

Medica Health Plans of Wisconsin

MercyCare HMO, Inc.

Molina Healthcare of Wisconsin, Inc.

Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation

Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc.

Unity Health Plans Insurance Corp.

Arise (WPS Health Plan, Inc.)

Small Employer Group Market Insurance Companies

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative

Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin

Gundersen Health Plan, Inc.

Health Tradition Health Plan

Medica Insurance Company

MercyCare HMO

MercyCare Insurance Company

Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc.

Arise (WPS Health Plan, Inc.)

Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@wisconsinreporter.com

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.

  • arby386

    Don’t think for a minute this was not anticipated. I’ll guarantee that Ron Kind knew well that Wisconsin’s rates would have to be raised to support the rest of the country. Be sure to thank him at his next town hall!!!

  • kay

    I think Obamacare is so confusing that no one knows what is going on. Good job Congressmen and Senators!! Thank you. It is so good that you exempted yourselves.

  • KMC528

    It’s so good that you’re falling for the lie that “Congress exempted themselves.” Congress is NOT exempt. They’re using the same Federal exchanges as everyone else.