Wisconsin enrollment in the Affordable Care Act exchange is outpacing enrollment last year, though sign-up ends Friday, six weeks shorter than the last enrollment period.

Meanwhile, state officials are looking at seeking a federal waiver to let the state set up its own system for insurance under the health law, as other states have done.

Wisconsin’s “Obamacare” marketplace, which has more insurers than most states, is seeing average premium increases of 36 percent, has few plans in some counties and lost some carriers, requiring about 75,000 people to find new options, said J.P. Wieske, deputy commissioner of insurance.

“We’ve got an early warning, and we’re trying to take action before it gets much worse,” Wieske said Wednesday at a talk sponsored by Wisconsin Health News.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 9, more than 128,000 state residents selected a plan at healthcare.gov, the federal government said Wednesday.

As of Dec. 10 last year, fewer than 118,000 people had signed up. That enrollment period lasted until the end of January, while this year’s ends Friday.

Wieske said he expected the total number of people who sign up and pay for coverage next year will be pretty close to this year’s total, about 211,000.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is talking about submitting a “1332 waiver” to find alternative ways to provide affordable insurance. Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota and Oregon have received approval for such waivers, and other states have applied for or are considering them.

Wisconsin’s waiver could ask to set up reinsurance, which helps insurance companies pay for high-cost cases, or re-establish a program similar to a high-risk pool, among other possibilities, Weiske said.

The goal is to implement the new approach by 2019, he said. But that might not be possible because the state is still studying the idea, and federal review usually takes about nine months, Weiske said.


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