Republicans are looking at high-risk insurance pools in their replacement for the Affordable Care Act, according to a report the Wisconsin State Journal.
Some consider Wisconsin's high-risk pools, which ran from 1979 to 2014, as a national model, according to the report. The plan insured about 21,000 people whose conditions kept them from getting insurance elsewhere, and was funded through premiums, insurance company assessments, and reduced payments to insurance providers.
"Pooling the high-risk individuals together and managing their needs separately was a huge factor in the state's success in offering a competitive insurance market," J.P. Wieske, the state's deputy insurance commissioner told the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier in February.
However, the plan left half a million people uninsured, said Donna Friedsam, health policy programs director at UW-Madison's Population Health Institute.
Instead of requiring insurance providers to cover those with pre-existing conditions like Obamacare does, a proposal by House Speaker Paul Ryan bans insurers from charging more for pre-existing conditions if they keep continuous coverage.
"We believe that high-risk pools are a smarter way of guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions," Ryan said at a town hall meeting in January, Madison notes.
High-risk pools are not unusual, former Wisconsin insurance commissioner Sean Dilweg said, and "the idea is to take the most expensive numbers out of the system."
Joe Kachelski, a board member of the Wisconsin program, said he did not see a better option. "You have to deal with the medically uninsurable somehow… if it's not high-risk pools, I'm not sure what it is," he said.
However, some disagree about the cost and effectiveness of high-risk pool coverage, NPR reports.
Obamacare coverage is better than the Wisconsin plan, says Jon Peacock, research director at Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
"It's better than having nothing for people with significant health problems. But it's far inferior to a working marketplace like the one that exists now," Peacock said, Madison reports.
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