ObamaCare Pushes Wisconsin Insurance Rates Up, Again

Wisconsinites who get their government-mandated health insurance via the federal health insurance exchange are once again going to be paying more out of pocket for their monthly premiums. Late last week the state’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, which regulates the insurance industry, disclosed that the average plan on HealthCare.gov for Wisconsin residents is going to see a 15.88% increase in premium costs. Some, in Wisconsin, will see their plan cost jump an astonishing 30.37%.

HealthCare.gov is the insurance marketplace established by ObamaCare to facilitate the buying of health insurance plans that meet federal mandates found in the Affordable Care Act.

“In order to be eligible for the federally facilitated exchange, insurers must meet all state standards and file their rates and forms with the state of Wisconsin,” a press release from the OCI explains. Since October 2013, when the ObamaCare exchanges launched with a massive technical glitch, each October as marked the “open enrollment” period during which consumers can buy health insurance and enroll in a plan via HealthCare.gov for the following year.

The average rate increase of just over 15% is higher than expected. Earlier in the year preliminary data suggested that the average rate increase would be a still noticeable 10% hike.

The price jump outpaces the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 12-month CPI for the year that ended in August 2016 was 1.1%, a barely noticeable rate of inflation. For medical care the inflation rate was 5.1% over the past year, which is still only 1/3rd of the cost of the rate increases.

When ObamaCare-compliant insurance policies were first offered in late 2013, Wisconsin consumers saw huge premium increases. For example, a 21 year-old in Wisconsin in 2013 saw a 135% premium increase from the cheapest pre-ObamaCare plan available to them versus the cheapest ObamaCare plan offered on the health insurance exchange.

News of the rate hike comes as Wisconsin voters weigh who they want to send back to the U.S. Senate this fall. In 2010, voters booted Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, who supported ObamaCare and replaced him with Republican Ron Johnson. Now, Feingold, who has spent his career in government, is attempting to oust Johnson, who has term-limited himself to two terms and has spent his career in creating jobs in the private sector.

During the 2010 matchup ObamaCare was hotly debated by both candidates.

Johnson has asserted that Feingold cast the deciding vote on ObamaCare, and that’s true given the fact that Democrats needed 60 votes to move the legislation through the Senate past procedural hurdles, and they only secured 60 votes to do so.

Remarkably, PolitiFact, the editorial feature that fact checks statements by politicians and public figures, declared Johnson’s assertion “Mostly False” in 2015, arguing that while Feingold’s vote was absolutely necessary, it wasn’t right to say Feingold was the deciding vote of the 60 votes needed. “Obamacare backers needed 60 yes votes on a crucial vote in the Senate that paved the way for final Senate passage of the health care reform bill. Feingold cast one of those votes,” wrote PolitiFact writer Tom Kertscher.

But in a debate exchange in 2010, Feingold took credit for being the deciding vote on ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. “Not only was I the deciding vote for the healthcare bill,” Feingold said before delving into an aside.

Asked about the video of Feingold contradicting PolitiFact’s ruling, Kertscher said, “Doesn’t really matter who said he is the deciding vote; the question is whether he was.” Asked if that meant PolitiFact would either re-assess its ruling about Johnson’s statement in 2015 or would have to find Feingold to be “mostly false” in his own statement, Kertscher didn’t respond.

Liberals in Wisconsin blasted Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) decision ahead of the ObamaCare exchange launch in 2013 to not develop an expensive state-funded exchange. They consistently pointed to neighboring Minnesota as an example of model ObamaCare implementation, but this year’s open enrollment period is finding Minnesota consumers facing staggering premium hikes and shrinking options via the MNSure ObamaCare exchange.

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Brian Sikma

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