Wisconsin News

Local hospitals' insurance plans receive approval to be on health care exchange

LA CROSSE, WI - The online health insurance marketplace will be up and running in Wisconsin in less than two months.

Two local providers will likely be part of it.

The online health insurance marketplace is a requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

The whole idea is to give individuals or small businesses without health insurance a place to shop for coverage.

After hours of work, Mayo Clinic Health System's health insurance plan Health Traditions, received state approval to be part of the upcoming online health insurance marketplace.

"It was a long process," said Health Traditions Executive Director Steve Kunes. "It took about 30,000 pieces of information that had to go into the application, which of course made the website crash immediately."

Gundersen Health System's insurance coverage also received state approval.

It comes less than two months before the marketplace will be open for business.


It's supposed to be up and running October 1.

Lorie Graff, with the La Crosse County Income Maintenance Consortium said the eight-county area she serves is working hard to prepare for the change.

"The regional enrollment network will align with the income maintenance consortia so in our eight counties we'll have a regional enrollment network," said Graff.

The whole idea is to come up with an organized process to make sure the more than 30,000 uninsured people in the Western eight counties of the state get the help they need to navigate the new marketplace.

It's a process Kunes said won't be easy.

"There's going to be a lot of questions and if you go to the government website they can help you through some of the questions that they have answers for. I think there's a lot of unanswered questions, but hopefully between now and October first those will be answered, but I'm not sure that people can do it all by themselves and so they're going to need help so look to the county and they can certainly look to us at Health Tradition," said Kunes.

Graff also said Badgercare plus coverage is shrinking, which leaves more than 1,500 people that used to be insured under that program uninsured.

That means most of those people will likely have to navigate the exchange as well.

Both Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System's health plans are still waiting on federal approval before officially being accepted to the online marketplace.

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