Wisconsin Seeks Permission for Off-Exchange Purchases of Health Plans

In addition to delaying changes to BadgerCare eligibility in response to the troubled roll-out of the federal healthcare.gov insurance exchange, Wisconsin officials are also seeking federal permission to allow state residents receiving a federal subsidy to purchase insurance plans directly from the insurance companies rather than being forced to buy through the exchange.

The Walker administration has made two requests to federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to authorize off-exchange purchases. Gov. Walker asked that Wisconsin residents be allowed to purchase any plan of their choosing with their subsidy. In a follow-up letter, Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel requested that if Wisconsin residents are not allowed to purchase any plan, as the governor suggested, that Wisconsin at least be added to a pilot program that allows consumers to purchase plans offered on the federal exchange directly from insurance companies. According to the letter, Florida, Ohio, and Texas are currently participating in such a program.