HIRSP Bill Signed into Law

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Dec 2, 2009 No Comments ›› admin
December 2, 2009

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle Signs into Law Increasing Lifetime Maximum Benefit for Wisconsin’s Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan (HIRSP) and  Simplifying HIRSP Application Process. Madison –Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has signed into law 2009 Wisconsin Acts 83 and 84, which make two important changes to the Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan (HIRSP).

HIRSP is Wisconsin’s program to provide health insurance coverage for those who are unable to get non-group coverage and for certain individuals who lose access to employer-sponsored coverage.

Act 83 allows the HIRSP Board of Directors to increase the current statutory lifetime maximum benefit for HIRSP.  With this new flexibility, the Board of Directors has decided to double the benefit from $1 million to $2 million.  The new lifetime maximum benefit brings HIRSP more in line with coverage in the private individual health insurance market and provides much needed additional health care coverage to Wisconsinites facing very high health care costs.  “Until some sort of health care reform is enacted on a federal level, HIRSP serves as the only health insurance resource for many of the chronically ill.  Expanding the HIRSP lifetime maximum benefit will ensure that these resources continue to be available.” says Leigh Gott, a Wauwatosa-based participant of the HIRSP program.

Act 84 provides easier access to HIRSP by reducing the number of rejection letters needed to qualify for HIRSP as medically uninsurable from two to one.  The reduction to one letter of rejection reduces the administrative burden on HIRSP applicants and should make it easier for eligible individuals to obtain coverage.  “HIRSP provides a vital benefit to individuals with serious health conditions who cannot obtain adequate health insurance in the private market,” said Sen. Vinehout, Senate author of both Acts.  “People facing very serious medical conditions live with a great deal of stress and uncertainty.  Making HIRSP easier to access and raising the lifetime limit will relieve some of that stress and provide them with the security of health care coverage under this important program.”

HIRSP has operated as a quasi-governmental authority since 2006, after approximately 25 years as a state agency.   “The HIRSP Authority has been successful in managing health-care costs and providing HIRSP members with more coverage options than they had in the past,” said Amie Goldman, CEO of the HIRSP Authority.  “We thank Sen. Vinehout for her support of HIRSP and for her leadership in moving these important changes through the Legislature.”

HIRSP currently offers a choice of five standard plans, with annual deductibles ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, and a Medicare Supplement plan.  Two of the standard options are Health Savings Account (HSA) plans, with deductibles of $2,500 or $3,500.

The affordability of HIRSP premiums has improved over the last few years with the offering of additional plan options.  Premiums for a 44 year-old male on the HSA $2,500 plan are $271 per month and are $159 per month for the HIRSP $5,000 plan. Low-income persons are eligible for premium and deductible subsidies, which can provide a premium discount of up to 43%.

HIRSP, which covers more than 16,000 individuals, receives no general purpose revenue from the state of Wisconsin.  HIRSP is funded with a combination of premiums (60 percent), assessments paid by health insurers (20 percent) and discounts in reimbursements to healthcare providers (20 percent).   

More information about HIRSP rates, low-income subsidy and eligibility can be found at www.hirsp.org.

For more information, contact Amie Goldman, HIRSP CEO (608) 441-5777

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Voters for Vinehout

P.O. Box 1274
Eau Claire, WI 54702