United HealthCare Hints at Dropping Plans in Wisconsin

United HealthCare is hinting at dropping or cancelling certain health insurance plans they sell in Wisconsin. Kevin Shermach, a spokesman for the health insurance company, refused to go into detail about which plans might not be renewed, but did indicate that certain products currently offered will likely not be offered in the future. Asked about cancellations, the spokesman said that United HealthCare would not be cancelling, per se, since that means they broke a contract, but certain policies would simply not be renewed.

Queried about the reason for the changes, Shermach would only say, “Could be for any number of reasons, and I don’t want to speculate.”

Around the country health insurance providers have moved to change, drop or not renew certain of their existing products. The number of policy cancellations across the country is staggering. According to Bloomberg News:

Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for instance, said about 300,000 members are affected while California’s Blue Shield and Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente will withdraw policies for a combined 280,000. Highmark Health Services of Pittsburgh said 40,000 customers will need to find new plans. CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield sent notices to more than 70,000 customers in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia that their current plans don’t comply with the law.

United HealthCare and Humana are not participating in Wisconsin’s federally run health insurance exchange. While it will still be possible to buy health insurance from these companies, the plans they sell will not be eligible for federal subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket premium costs for consumers with eligible income levels.

Meanwhile, looking to control rising health insurance costs, some companies in Milwaukee are considering cancelling the health insurance plans they offer as benefits to their employees. A survey released this month by HCTrends, a Milwaukee-based healthcare benefits forum, found that 27% of Milwaukee employers are weighing termination of health insurance coverage for employees.

As first reported by the MacIver Institute, HCTrends also discovered that health insurance costs for employers have risen more than double the national average for Milwaukee companies.