CITY OF PEWAUKEE - As
the effects of the Affordable Care Act - commonly called Obamacare -
are felt by area residents who have seen premiums rise, received
early renewal notices or even had their insurance dropped, Frett
Barrington Ltd has been working with them to find answers.
One group of people
that has been especially affected, according to Terry Frett,
president and founder of Frett Barrington, an independent insurance
brokerage, are those who are part of the Wisconsin Health Insurance
Risk Sharing Plan. People who have health problems that prevented
them from getting insurance or lost employer-sponsored coverage were
able to apply for benefits through HIRSP.
Frett said there
were about 24,000 enrollees in the program who received a letter
before open enrollment began Oct. 1, notifying them that their
policies would be terminated but they would be able to apply for
health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace,
www.healthcare.gov. As has been widely reported, the website set up
by the government has not worked as planned, so those people who had
HIRSP are left without insurance and are struggling to apply for
J.P. Wieske, a
spokesman for the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance,
said the state has allowed insurers and consumers to renew
individual market policies early so they will be extended into 2014
a little longer.
He said allowing
insurers to renew early has “mitigated a lot of the issues that some
of the other states were seeing.”
said there haven’t been too many issues in Wisconsin resulting from
the ACA on health insurance plans.
As for the people
who had coverage through HIRSP, Gov. Scott Walker has suggested a
three-month extension of HIRSP.
Walker has called
a special session of the Legislature for Monday to discuss Obamacare
and the problems with the online health insurance marketplace
created by the federal government. Earlier this month, Walker also
proposed a three-month delay in the implementation of people into
health care plans in the federal exchange.
“The concern is
that fix isn’t coming fast enough,” Frett said.
that some Wisconsinites are experiencing affects those who had
health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield, a popular provider
in Wisconsin, Frett said.
In 2014, the
company will still be offering individual health insurance coverage,
but will only offer its health plan with the Blue Priority network.
Health care providers included in the network are more limited and
residents in some parts of the state won’t be covered because the
network doesn’t include any providers in their area.
Liz Johnson, an
accounts manager with Frett Barrington, said premiums are also being
affected by what is now required to be covered by the ACA. Two of
the areas that have had the largest effects on premiums are mental
health services, which historically were not included, and
maternity. Whether people want those areas covered by their health
insurance, they must be covered under the law, resulting in higher
premiums, Johnson said.
clients are also seeing higher deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and
Younger males are
hit hardest by some of the increases, Frett said, because under
Obamacare, questions cannot be asked about medical history,
including pre-existing conditions, and rates by gender have also
been eliminated. Under the new rules, young males are charged the
same rates as young females.
Johnson said she
recently sat in on a phone call with a client who was trying to
apply for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and
learned that the government employee was using the same website that
is available to consumers.
hitting roadblocks all over the place,” she said.