MENASHA - Half a million Wisconsinites will soon have to open up their pocketbooks for health care coverage, and new estimates show it may be costly.
The state's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance released estimates of how premium rates for individuals will change under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Those reflect increases from 10% on the low end to as much as 125%.
And with the requirement for individuals to have insurance set to start in less than a month, the law remains controversial.
Starting Oct. 1, 500,000 Wisconsinites will have to shop for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and according to the state's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, there will be drastic premium increases as a result.
The office compiled data from eight cities for $2,000 deductible plans for three different age groups. The study did not include the numbers of actual estimated costs, only percentages. But as an example, the study found: in Appleton a 21-year-old's cost would increase 54%, a 40-year-old's about 37% and a 63-year-old's about 32%.
We spoke with John Kelly from Security Health Plan of Wisconsin. The company is one of 13 in that will be part of the exchange in the state. He told FOX 11 the numbers from OCI mesh with what his company has found, but said comparing today's plans with the ACA plans is like comparing apples and oranges.
"Generally speaking, they are different types of plans. There's better coverage under the ACA," explained Kelly.
Kelly also told us it's impossible to know what each person will actually pay until the exchange begins. The state's study does not include tax credits and federal subsidies that are expected to offset much of the costs.
"What an individual will pay out of pocket for a premium will be subject to a number of other variables, such as their income level and so forth," Kelly explained.
At a town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R-6th District) in Menasha, many voiced concerns about the insurance changes.
Bill Hissem told us he'd even support a government shutdown to stop the law.
"It's failing to address all of the promises made originally, i.e. affordability, okay? The ability to obtain your coverage," said Hissem.
Sarah Conklin said supports the ACA.
"I want to make sure that 'Obamacare' goes forward and that they don't hold the budget at a stalemate because of 'Obamacare' and that nothing gets reversed from it," said Conklin.
Petri himself told us it's not likely Congress will take down the law any time soon.
"There are a number of other features of the legislation that are pretty controversial as well as whether they're workable or not, but it's basically a partisan potato in the Congress and it's unlikely in the short term there's going to be a consensus," said Petri.
The state estimates about 400,000 residents currently don't have health insurance. Another 92,000 are expected to lose their state coverage as part of changes to BadgerCare.
Neither Gov. Scott Walker's office nor the Insurance Commissioner's office responded to our request for interviews.
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