The federal marketplace for health care plans saw a low turnout among people moved off the state’s Medicaid program, according to new figures from the state Department of Health Services.
Only 18,801 people, roughly 30 percent of those moved off BadgerCare, enrolled in the federal health exchange, despite the DHS predicting a 90 percent turnout.
State officials emphasized that the figure does not completely reflect what happened to the 62,776 people who had to leave BadgerCare earlier this year after the state made changes to the program’s eligibility criteria.
Last year, Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature reduced BadgerCare eligibility for most adults to 100 percent of the federal poverty line, so those making more than that needed to find private health insurance earlier this year.
Moving those adults off BadgerCare allowed the state to cover 96,509 previously uninsured childless adults whose incomes were below the poverty level, according to DHS.
At a July 16 news conference, Deputy Insurance Commissioner Dan Schwartzer said 165,000 people across Wisconsin enrolled in private health plans during the health care law’s open enrollment period. He said that suggests Wisconsin is on track to meet Walker’s goal of cutting the number of uninsured adults by 225,000, or 50 percent.
“Clearly, with 165,000 total lives enrolling in the exchange and outside the exchange … we’re well on our way to reaching the governor’s goals,” Schwartzer said.
The DHS numbers show more than 38,000 of the 62,776 taken off BadgerCare did not enroll in the federal health care marketplace.
However, DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades said in a statement getting coverage through the marketplace “isn’t the only option” for those moving from BadgerCare.
“This data match provided only the information about whether or not a transitioning member selected a plan through the Federal Marketplace and is therefore not a complete picture of the health care coverage choices made by the transitioning BadgerCare Plus members,” Rhoades said.
Other options for getting private coverage include getting covered through work or through a spouse or enrolling in a plan that was not offered in the federal marketplace, she said.
Still, supporters of a Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act — which Walker and Republican lawmakers refused last year — said accepting those federal funds would cover more people.
“We’re making a little progress, but we could have made much greater progress at lower cost to state taxpayers by taking the federal funding to expand Badgercare up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level,” Jon Peacock, the research director for Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, said. “I’m not saying that the Walker plan was a step backwards, it was forward a little, but we could have gone further and spent less state money. ”
Kevin Kane, lead organizer for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said those who did not enroll in the marketplace by the March 31 deadline will not be able to enroll until the next enrollment period in November.
Those who sign up in the next enrollment period would not see their plans kick in until January 2015, Kane added.
“The good news is yes, some people did get coverage, “ Kane said, “Unfortunately, there are tens of thousands of people who are being denied coverage, and now we know for sure that there are people being kicked off of BadgerCare that used to have it that now literally have nothing.”