Health insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act exchange will go up an average of 36 percent in Wisconsin next year, but government subsidies will offset the increases for most people, a state official said Thursday.
A major reason for the stiff hikes is that President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t said if it will continue certain payments to insurers, said J.P. Wieske, deputy commissioner of insurance.
The increases — and the loss of three national insurers in the state from healthcare.gov, affecting more than a third of the 216,000 residents who get insurance that way — also reflect instability in the market, Wieske said.
Too few young and healthy people are signing up for insurance on the exchange, part of what is known by some as Obamacare, making it risky for insurers who have lost $400 million from the business in the state over three years, he said.
“There’s some concern that we’re in a death spiral,” Wieske said. “The increases we’re seeing reflect the increased amount of risk that a smaller number of carriers are going to have to take on.”
Enrollment for individual coverage at healthcare.gov runs Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.
Molina Healthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Wisconsin and Health Tradition Health Plan said earlier this year they are leaving the exchange next year. About 75,000 people on those plans will need to select other insurance. To help stabilize the market, Wisconsin will consider seeking a waiver in 2019 to let the state set up its own system under the federal health care law, he said. Minnesota has done that, and Iowa is requesting permission.
Premiums next year will increase an average of 40 percent for so-called silver plans on the exchange in the state. About 90 percent of people with the coverage get subsidies that will also go up accordingly, so they won’t be directly impacted, Wieske said. Rates for bronze plans, which offer less coverage, will go up 21 percent. The cost for gold plans, which offer more coverage, will go up 19 percent. People buying those plans will have to pay more.