Residents along the Minnesota-Wisconsin state border are paying different premiums for individual health insurance policies depending on where they live.
Stillwater, Minn.-based insurance agent Dennis Conger said that health exchange premiums in Wisconsin’s Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties are nearly twice the rate as premiums in the Twin Cities. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that it found the same differences when it analyzed premiums available on health exchanges operating in the two states, plus 34 others.
Minnesota officials have said the 2014 Minnesota rates are among the lowest in the country.
Cox said fewer insurance companies are on the Wisconsin side of the border, so the lack of competition could lead to higher rates. Linda Skoglund, an insurance agent in New Richmond, Wis., said lower premiums in the Twin Cities could be due to narrow network health plans, where consumers pay less but face more limits on doctors they can see. Those plans aren’t available in Wisconsin.
Health insurance experts also say the difference is due to a convergence of policy decisions in each state when it comes to high-risk pool programs, the state-federal Medicaid program and when people in the individual health insurance market can renew their policies.
The disparity apparently has almost nothing to do with the fact that Democrats in Minnesota created a state-based health insurance exchange, while Republicans in Wisconsin left exchange operations to the federal government.