MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Here are some fast facts about how buying health insurance will change in Wisconsin under the new health insurance law. The law aims to reduce the number of uninsured by requiring people to get coverage and by setting up online health insurance markets called exchanges where consumers can look at private insurance options. Government subsidies will be available for some who can't afford the premiums. The federal government also is urging states to expand their Medicaid programs for the poor and disabled.
Question: How many people are uninsured in Wisconsin?
Answer: About 558,400 people, or 10 percent of the state's population, don't have health insurance, according to the latest government figures. One state-commissioned study has estimated that more than 60 percent of them will get coverage under the new system.
Q: How many people in Wisconsin are served by Medicaid?
A: About 1.2 million people are covered by one of the states Medicaid programs, such as BadgerCare Plus and SeniorCare. Gov. Scott Walker has not announced whether Wisconsin will expand Medicaid to cover more low-income workers, as the federal government has recommended. An expansion could add about 181,000 to the rolls, according to one assessment. Some states have approved an expansion while others have declined, citing the additional cost. Under the new law, the federal government would pay the added costs through 2016, after which the state's share would rise in stages to 10 percent.
Q: How many small businesses are likely to take advantage of health insurance offered through the exchange?
A: One actuarial study has estimated that 63,000 small employers would participate.
Q: When will the online exchanges begin operating?
A: Consumers can begin shopping among insurance plans on Oct. 1. The coverage would go into effect Jan. 1. The exchange will be designed by the federal government because the state declined to participate, citing the administrative costs.