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State commissioner asks for exemption for some Wisconsin insurance companies


UNDATED (WSAU) The state’s insurance commissioner has asked the federal government to exempt some health insurers from the requirement that they spend 80-percent of their premiums on medical care. Ted Nickel wants the requirement to be phased in over three years for companies that sell health plans directly to individuals. Nickel says six insurers which provide a-third of all individual coverage now spend anywhere from 65-to-72 percent of their premium revenues on actual care. He says those firms face numerous obstacles in meeting the 80-percent requirement.

He proposes thresholds of 71-percent this year, 74-percent next year, 77-percent in 2013, and the current 80-percent in 2014. About 184,000 Wisconsinites buy their health care directly from insurers. Most are non-profits, and the majority have said they would have no trouble meeting the current federal mandate.

Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Jon Richards scolded the Walker administration for putting businesses ahead of consumers. And he said the state should side with consumers in the effort to cut health care costs.