Thursday, September 19, 2013

96% of Wisconsinites Will Have Choice of Two or More Insurers through New Insurance Marketplace

As we approach the October 1 date when people can start signing up for health insurance through the new Marketplace, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has released information on the geographic areas being served by the 13 insurance companies participating in the federally run Marketplace in Wisconsin.

Our quick review of the information in today’s OCI press release indicates that in 59 of the state’s 72 counties, or 82%, there will be two or more insurers who are offering coverage for individuals through the Marketplace. In almost three-fifths of Wisconsin counties, three or more insurers will offer individual plans through the Marketplace.

Moreover, since the 13 counties with only one plan are rural and sparsely populated, the percentage of Wisconsinites who can choose between two or more insurers is considerably higher (than the percentage of counties). Citizen Action of Wisconsin crunched those numbers today and concluded that 95.9% of the residents of our state could choose between two or more insurers if they are shopping for individual coverage in the Marketplace (or insurance “exchange”). They also calculated that about 83% of Wisconsinites are in counties where there will be two or more plans that serve the small group market.

The number of options in the individual market is multiplied in every county because each of the participating insurers must offer a minimum of two plans in the Marketplace.  The Affordable Care Act requires them to offer at least one plan in the “silver” tier of plans, and one in the “gold” tier, and many insurers will offer far more than that.  For example, Group Health Cooperative of South Central WI said at a health care conference Wednesday that it will offer several different options in in each of the four metal tiers.

The information released by OCI today does not specify how many plans each of the participating insurers will offer or what the rates will be. We're excited to learn more on October 1 about the variety of plans and the rates for the new plans available through the Marketplace.

Jon Peacock 

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