At a media event this morning outside the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Town Hall in West Allis, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and State Senator Chris Larson denounced the Walker Administration’s attempt to mislead the public with unverifiable health insurance figures claiming rates would much higher in the new health insurance marketplace (or exchange) created by the Affordable Care Act. Citizens called on the Walker Administration to release the full data to public scrutiny instead of seeking political gain through confusing consumers.
Even if the data is taken at face value, it is clear that OCI leaves out vital factors which will have a major impact on the true sticker price of health insurance. At issue is the secretive manner in which the Walker Administration released information. Instead of releasing the rates insurers presented to the administration months ago, the Insurance Commissioner showed estimated percent increases from a previous year prior to reform. The Administration failed to present the impact of tax credits that will greatly reduce cost for many consumers, does not factor in the improved quality of the new plans, and fails to account for pre-existing condition protections and other factors that would reduce cost for many consumers.
A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that nearly half of consumers on the new health insurance marketplaces will receive tax credits which will on average a reduce the sticker price of a family plan at the silver level by 32% (or $2,672). The subsidies would reduce the cost of a bronze plan by 77%.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Walker Administration is trying to deliberately confuse the public about insurance costs at a time when consumers need good information on how to obtain good affordable coverage,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
"The Walker Administration is distorting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act rather than helping to make healthcare accessible and affordable for Wisconsin's middle-class Families," stated Sen. Chris Larson. "We can not afford the Administration's calculation to put politics above the best interests of Wisconsin's families."
Following the media event, participants entered the Commissioner of Insurance Town Hall on the Affordable Care Act to directly call on the Walker Administration to release the full data.
In August Citizen Action of Wisconsin hosted a media call with noted MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber to pre-empt any efforts to mislead the public on rate increases. A recording of that media call is available here.