MADISON, Wis. (AP) — It will be a tough task implementing the online health insurance marketplaces that are required of each state under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and there will no doubt be consumer horror stories about trying to navigate them, insurance company executives warned Tuesday.
The insurance exchanges will offer private coverage to the uninsured and subsidies for low-income consumers. They’re supposed to be open for enrollments by Oct. 1 and operating fully by Jan. 1.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty almost everywhere you look,” said Mark Moody, the president and chief executive officer of WEA Trust, which offers insurance to Wisconsin school districts, state health plan members, and local units of government.
Just like when Medicare Part D was implemented, using the exchange will be stressful and chaotic for months before things settle down, Moody said.
“There will be horror stories, stories of so-called train wrecks,” Moody said at the panel discussion organized by Wisconsin Health News. “It will be a difficult process to get the exchanges started. … I think fundamentally the Affordable Care Act is on the right track but it’s going to be a long, slow process.”
How Wisconsin’s exchange will work under real-life conditions is untested, said Mike Hamerlik, the president and chief executive officer of WPS Health Insurance, which covers about 164,000 people through health plans sold to individuals and small employers.
“It is dependent on proper execution,” he said. “How this is rolled out is going to largely define at least the pace at which it is adopted.”
Neither WEA Trust nor WPS are participating in Wisconsin’s exchange, at least initially, because of all the uncertainty.
Gov. Scott Walker declined to have Wisconsin construct and run its own exchange, instead ceding that responsibility to the federal government. Walker, who like most Republicans staunchly opposed President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, also rejected a federally funded expansion of Medicaid.