Implementation of the ACA resulted in significant coverage gains among all Wisconsinites, regardless of race or ethnicity, but coverage rates for people of color still lag behind white people. Despite gains, Latinx and Native Americans still have high uninsured rates. Fully expanding BadgerCare would increase coverage for people under 138% of FPL, and would lead to more people of color being covered, especially among Latinx Wisconsinites, who are uninsured at rates three times higher than white people.
BadgerCare expansion can help curb small business owners’ premium costs. When someone without insurance seeks medical care they can’t afford, the fees for that care often go unpaid. To cover their losses insurers charge the insured higher rates, and these increases mean higher premiums for everyone. BadgerCare expansion, however, benefits the healthcare system overall by ensuring fewer individuals receive uncompensated care, so fewer costs will be passed on.
Because the ACA brought insurance to more people the cost of uncompensated care dropped substantially in Wisconsin, but hospitals in states who fully expanded Medicaid have enjoyed even larger savings. There was a 55% drop in hospital uncompensated care costs in expansion states, compared in non-expansion states.
Low-income women who do not have access to BadgerCare coverage often have to rely on a patchwork of care programs in order to receive the health care they need. They are also most likely to forego care due to its costs. For example, many of these women may have to go to publicly-funded safety net clinics in order to receive reproductive health care services. Unfortunately, these centers are unable to meet the demand for services. Expanding BadgerCare would allow thousands more Wisconsin women to have access to comprehensive health care.
Some community-based and inpatient Medicaid services are the financial responsibility of counties rather than the state. By getting 90% federal funding for coverage of childless adults below 138% of FPL (rather than 59%), the counties would enjoy substantial savings for these services and could either improve access and delivery of those county-funded services or use the savings for other purposes, including property tax relief.