Governor's administration predicts some health insurance rates will skyrocket under Affordable Care Act; opposition groups call numbers Submitted: 09/03/2013
RHINELANDER - The Census Bureau estimates one out of every 10 people in Wisconsin who are too young for Medicare have no health insurance at all. In January, by law, they'll have to be insured. In less than a month, people can shop for plans on a new insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, Governor Walker's administration warned those plans could be costly.

The administration said average rates could increase by as much as 125 percent between this year and last year for certain parts of the population. But some Wisconsin groups believe Tuesday's numbers are misleading, and meant to scare the public. The administration says they compared average 2013 costs for plans, and the same plans enrolled in the 2014 federal exchange. The 125 percent example used a 21-year-old living in the Madison area. "If you're 20 years old, you're looking at rates that are going to be higher than where you're at today - significantly. If you're 60, their rates are not going to be changing as much as a 20-year-old would. Region to region, there's some big differences region to region," J.P Wieske, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Public Information Officer, said. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance released the numbers. They acknowledge the numbers don't include the several subsidies that will be available to low-income people. The office also says specific rates for consumers will vary widely. Even so, some groups are upset with the release. They see it as a scare tactic for Wisconsinites. "Right before they're about to do 11 town hall meetings, the day they start them, they release this intentionally confusing press release with not even real rates, just a weird comparison we can't actually confirm or deny," said Citizen Action of Wisconsin Healthcare Organizer Kevin Kane. One of those town hall meetings was Tuesday in Rhinelander. The federal government will administer Wisconsin's health insurance exchange. But Wisconsin officials tried to help people understand the Affordable Care Act changes better. "The (Affordable Care Act) is complicated. It's very difficult for a lot of people to understand what's going on. We wanted to go around the state and help them understand how all of these insurance changes are going to affect them," Wieske said. The 11 sessions include stops Tuesday through Friday across the state. They also presented for audiences and took questions in Wausau, Eau Claire, and La Crosse Tuesday. See the links below for the Walker administration release and the response from Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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