UPDATE: Obamacare enrollment up over 700% in Wisconsin - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Obamacare enrollment up over 700% in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- At a five-person forum on the Affordable Care Act Tuesday, Wisconsin's Deputy Insurance Commissioner easily made the biggest news.

"We just did another informal look and we're up to 7,200 in enrollment," announced Deputy Insurance Commissioner Dan Schwartzer.

That's 7,200 Wisconsin residents who have enrolled in private health insurance through the federal marketplace.  That's up from just 877 in early November, an increase of more than 700 percent.

"Agents and insurers are telling us that the site is improving," said Schwartzer, referring to the much-maligned website, healthcare.gov.

But Schwartzer says there are still some problems for insurance carriers getting the information from the federal government once a person is enrolled.

"We are having some error rates on the back end, you know, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent depending on which carrier you talk to," said Schwartzer.  "Our goal, our focus, our hope is that Kathleen and her shop gets all that fixed before the 1st so that we don't have those issues."

"Kathleen" is Kathleen Falk, the former Dane County Executive who is now the Midwest regional director for U.S. Health and Human Services.  She says her focus is on getting more young people to sign up for insurance.

"The premium average is about $50 or less for about half, a little less than half for the young invincibles," said Falk.  "So, you know, it's affordable health care for them." 

Schwartzer says many more people could sign up if HHS grants Wisconsin a waiver to allow all private insurers, even those not in the federal marketplace, to sign people up directly on their own websites.  Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) made the request earlier this month.

"It seems pretty practical that this is something that hopefully HHS considers and allows," said Schwartzer.

The federal government already allows that practice through pilot programs in Texas, Florida and Ohio.

"It was kind of a soft launch, having learned from the October 1st launch, so that we can get more data and make sure that there are not glitches in that process and that's what those pilots are about," said Falk, who remained very non-committal about Wisconsin's request for a waiver.

But representatives from insurance carriers who are in the federal marketplace made it clear they are not in favor of the Governor's plan, saying it is too soon to allow other companies in the door.  Dan Schwartzer said his office hasn't gotten any formal feedback on the request from the federal government.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The number of Wisconsin residents who have enrolled in health insurance through the federal website is up dramatically from October.

Deputy State Insurance Commissioner Dan Schwartzer said the number is at about 7,200 people as of Monday. That is up from less than 900 people who signed up in October, the first month that the website, or exchange, was open.
 
The site has been beset with problems, but on Tuesday Schwartzer and other participants on a panel discussing implementation of the federal law say improvements are being made.

Schwartzer says state officials are "delighted" to see more people getting onto the site. He says insurance agents and insurance providers also are reporting site improvements.

The federal government is expected to release updated enrollment numbers for all states any day.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will have more on 27 News at 5 and 6 tonight.

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