2018 Wisconsin Health Insurance Cost Ranking
Report finds continuing regional disparities on cost, inflation, and quality. Rate of health care inflation was more than 15x higher before Affordable Care Act
Statewide: Citizen Action of Wisconsin released its 12th Annual Wisconsin Health Insurance Cost Ranking report Wednesday morning on a statewide media call. A full audio recording of the media call can be downloaded here.
The full report includes 19 charts ranking the cities and regions of Wisconsin on health insurance costs, rate of inflation, and quality. The full report can be downloaded here.
This year’s report finds wide disparities between higher and lower cost regions of Wisconsin, as well as large differences in the rate of health insurance inflation, causing some Wisconsinites to pay thousands of dollars more than others in less expensive regions of the state.
The report also looks at the rate of health insurance hyperinflation in each Wisconsin city before and after the Affordable Care (ACA) was fully implemented. The report finds that the rate of health insurance hyperinflation was over 15x higher in the 13 years before the implementation of ACA than it has been in the 5 years since (15% per year statewide before vs 1% per year after). In some Wisconsin cities, the decline in the rate of inflation is even more dramatic. These results call into question the claim that the health care law caused health insurance rates for most health consumers to dramatically increase, and the contention that repealing the ACA will lower the cost of health coverage.
New to this year’s report is data that reveals a decoupling of health insurance inflation rates between large group insurance and other types of coverage. This new trend provides evidence that efforts at the national level to undermine the ACA are having a major negative impact on people who buy insurance on their own and small businesses.
Also new to this year’s report is data on how much would be saved by consumers if Wisconsin adopted the BadgerCare Public Option bill (Assembly Bill 449/Senate Bill 363).
Key Findings: Wisconsin Health Insurance Cost Ranking 2018
- Wisconsin Health Care Hyperinflation is a Long Term Trend. Wisconsin large group health insurance costs (premiums and deductibles) have more than tripled since the year 2000, increasing 209% statewide, with regional rates of inflation varying between a low of 168% in Madison to highs of 366% in Green Bay, 258% in Oshkosh, 248% in Appleton, and 220% in Milwaukee, for benefits packages that are less generous.
- The Rate of Health Care Hyperinflation Was Much Higher Before the Implementation of ACA. The rate of health insurance hyperinflation for large group insurance was 15x higher in the 13 years before the implementation of ACA than it has been in the 5 years since (15% per year statewide before vs 1% per year after). While this does not prove that the ACA is responsible for the decrease in the rate of inflation, it does call into question the claim that the health care law caused health insurance rates for most health consumers to dramatically increase.
- The Rates for Large Group Health Insurance are Increasing Much More Slowly than Small Group and Individual Market. For the first time in the 12 year history of this report, the rates for large group insurance declined. Also, the annual inflation rate since the full implementation of the ACA 5 years ago is only 1%. On the other hand, rates continue to increase dramatically for individual market and small group insurance. The report discusses whether this can be attributed to efforts by the President and Congress to undermine the ACA.
- Opening Access to Public Insurance for Individuals and Small Employers Would Dramatically lower costs. The proposed BadgerCare Public Option bill would reduce premiums and deductibles by an average of over $1,700 on the small group market and over $4,400 on the individual market, and even more in some high cost metro areas.
- Regional Cost Disparities Persist. As in all 12 years of this report, there continue to be wide cost variations between higher and lower cost areas of the state. For example, there is a $1,785.72 difference in annual premiums on the large group market between Oshkosh, the highest-cost area, and Madison, the lowest-cost area. There is an even larger disparity on the individual market of $3,939.76 per year between Green Bay, the highest cost area, and the part of Wisconsin east of the Twin Cities. Regional disparities are evident for all kinds of insurance.
Additional data and 16 ranking charts ranking each metro area in Wisconsin are available in the full report which can be downloaded here.
“The striking numbers in this report make it clear that state lawmakers need to move beyond recent attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put a sharp focus on making health coverage truly affordable in Wisconsin,” said Robert Kraig, the report lead author and the Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It is absolutely stunning that health insurance premiums have tripled since 2000, yet the Governor and the Legislature are doing nothing to address the crisis.”
On the media call U.S. Representative Ron Kind (WI-3) called for an end to attempts to sabotage the ACA, including elements of the tax bill that passed today, and for new reforms such as a Medicare buy-in for people down to 55 years of age and Medicaid buy-in proposals. “The results here show that Congress needs to be focused on challenging health prices but is currently doing nothing,” said Congressman Kind. “We should be be holding hearings on pharmaceutical prices, looking very closely at the major medical consolidation of hospitals and insurers that lead to less competition and less price constraint. Instead, Republicans are forcing a tax bill that will raise prices and will lead to 13 million more uninsured Americans.”
“I buy an individual plan without subsidies. I am a small business owner and there are many of us entrepreneurs who rely on the Affordable Care Act for coverage”, said Alice Thompson, who owns an environmental consulting company in South Milwaukee. “Now I will be paying $974 a month for health insurance. That’s more than my mortgage! Wisconsin needs to take action to challenge these sky high medical prices.”
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