Commissioner Nickel Op-Ed:
The Wisconsin Health Care Stability Plan
Open enrollment in the individual health insurance market will begin on November 1.
Under Governor Walker's leadership, bipartisan support by the Wisconsin Legislature and flexibilities granted by the Trump Administration, Wisconsin created the Health Care Stability Plan – a program intended to reverse the double-digit increases in Wisconsin's individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act.
Based on rate filings received by my office, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, and an analysis conducted by an independent firm, Wakely,
the Health Care Stability Plan will drop 2019 premium rates in Wisconsin's individual health insurance market on a weighted average by 4.2 percent from 2018 rates, and by an estimated 10 percent as compared to without the program.
Put another way, the Wisconsin Health Care Stability Plan will lower 2019 total individual premium by $992.28 on average compared to without the program. That's real savings.
Nonetheless, those are just averages.
Green Bay was our most vulnerable market last year. Consumers in the individual market faced an increase of 105 percent in the second least costly silver plan from year to year and only had one plan to choose from.
This year, residents in Green Bay will have the choice of two insurers, and see a decrease of 32 percent.
The ACA destabilized the Wisconsin individual health insurance market. Since the ACA, our health insurance market has been battered by both federal government action and inaction. Unfortunately, this left Wisconsin consumers suffering from a loss of coverage choices as insurers left the individual market completely or shrunk service areas.
In 2018 alone, over 75,000 Wisconsinites lost their coverage and had to change insurers – many only had one or two to choose from. On top of that, insurance rates skyrocketed with rate increases averaging 44 percent across the state. There is no question this was a market nearing collapse.
Without Governor Walker's leadership on this important issue, Wisconsinites would be facing a more unstable market.
This bi-partisan Health Care Stability Plan is government at its best, we saw a problem and we took action. The Wisconsin-based solution results in lower health insurance premiums and ensuring coverage options for consumers across the state.
In Wisconsin, we will continue to seek additional approaches which lower costs and bring more competition to the individual health insurance market. As Governor Walker says, when Washington fails, Wisconsin leads.