Report: Health reform will halve Wyoming's uninsured

2011-11-21T23:45:00Z 2011-11-22T00:11:47Z Report: Health reform will halve Wyoming's uninsuredBy JOSHUA WOLFSON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
November 21, 2011 11:45 pm  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Health care reform will more than halve the number of uninsured in Wyoming between now and 2016, according to a report examining its impact on the state's insurance market.

Wyoming has an estimated 83,000 uninsured residents, or about 15 percent of the population. About 18,000 of those people will be covered through Medicaid after the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, the report found. Another 23,900 are expected to receive coverage under a health exchange now being studied by a state committee.

The report, authored by Massachusetts-based Gorman Actuarial, examined how the health reform law passed last year by Congress will affect Wyoming. The information is being used by the Health Benefits Exchange Steering Committee, which is reviewing various options for a state-run health exchange.

Wyoming's individual insurance market, comprising people who purchase coverage on their own instead of through an employer, will increase to 53,000 residents by 2016, the report found. Three-quarters will receive coverage through the exchange — basically a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for plans.

Although the exact details haven't been determined, the Affordable Care Act will create new benefit standards that will provide customers with more comprehensive coverage.

The elimination of certain bare-bone, high-deductible plans could increase individual-market premiums by 30 to 40 percent. However, the new standards should also mean consumers pay less out-of-pocket costs when they seek care. The report did not estimate the costs.

New standards would also eliminate the shifting of costs from the uninsured or underinsured to people with comprehensive coverage, said Barb Rea, health policy volunteer for Equality State Policy Center.

The change in standards will have less of an effect on small business insurance policies because high-deductible plans are less common in that market.

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