Thanks to our friends at Families USA for this great report, now that the first open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act has passed us, it is vital that we look to how we can improve enrollment in Wisconsin both now and in the future.
The next open enrollment at Healthcare.gov will start on November 15th, but there are a number of ways that people can enroll in the meantime, and more we can do now to improve enrollment. This especially matters for Wisconsin because...
- 77,000 have now been kicked off of BadgeCare by Governor Walker, meaning they will have until May 31st to sign up at Healthcare.gov
- Small group coverage - for small businesses, unions, nonprofits, churches etc, - is not over. In fact small group coverage can occur throughout the year.
- Throughout the year people will have special enrollment sessions. When they leave a job, get married, change income, have a child, move, etc they will have the chance to enroll again at Healthcare.gov. This transition will take place throughout the year by many people.
So what can we do to improve enrollment now? We look to the work of Families USA, see the full suggestions and additional info there.
1 - Increase the number of, and resources for, enrollment navigators and assisters
2 - Build a substantial, sustained public education campaign coordinated between the public and private sectors about the tax credit subsidies that are available to make insurance premiums affordable
3 - Coordinate enrollment opportunities with tax filing
4 - Continue streamlined Medicaid enrollment for people already enrolled in other public benefit programs
5 - Provide applications that can be completed in multiple languages, not just English and Spanish
6 - Strengthen coordination among the marketplaces and Medicaid to prevent applications from being lost or unduly delayed
7 - Fix the roadblocks that prevent people from completing their applications
8 - Ban health plans from continuing to impose premium surcharges that make insurance unaffordable for people who use tobacco
9 - Ensure that marketplaces offer low-deductible silver plans
10 - Exclude health plans that set unacceptably high premiums
Once again, to read more on these 10 suggestions, check out this report. Many of these are policy suggestions that Wisconsinites should advocate for, others are actions that together we can take. Additionally, here are some other suggestions we have at Citizen Action of Wisconsin to push forward...
Citizen Action's suggestions:
1 - Accept the federal funds for BadgerCare, all of the federal funds for BadgerCare
2 - Use the state's "Rate Review" power more effectively to challenge excessive health insurance rate hikes. “Minnesota used rate review to challenge all insurance premiums that were excessive based on underlying medical costs, and the Walker administration has refused to do so" - link
3 - Create a "state-based" marketplace and use the collective power of the state to be the watchdog for consumers. To be an "active purchaser" and work to reduce costs for consumer. Much like Wisconsin actively purchases prescription drugs for seniors through its SeniorCare program.
4 - Work to bring transparency to the cost of healthcare, so consumers know what they're paying. Wisconsin currently receives an "F" for transparency. Link
5 - Remove excessive barriers to certified application counselors and navigators that the Walker added. Restrictions that courts in other states have found to be unconstitutional.
6 - Work to enroll as many individuals in Wisconsin as possible, especially young adults. Wisconsin has exhibited higher than average enrollees who are 55-64 in previous enrollment reports, which can make health coverage costs slightly higher in relation to other states if not enough young adults sign up.
We'll be working to promote these and other efforts to expand health access and improve affordability to quality coverage as long as it takes. we've made a huge gain with the Affordable Care Act, and we hope you'll join our campaign. Sign up here to volunteer.
Kevin Kane, Lead Organizer