Yesterday, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) released stakeholder working groups for Wisconsin Health Insurance Exchange development. In all of the eight working groups, meant to provide feedback and recommendations to the Commissioner on Exchange development, consumers are greatly outnumbered by industry representatives. The representation is on average, 8:1 in each group. In total, 90% of those on the working groups represent insurers, agents, businesses, or employers.
A large part of the promise of health reform for Wisconsin women lies in holding insurers accountable for discriminatory practices, such as deeming our gender as a pre-existing condition and dropping our coverage when it gets too expensive. The Exchanges are meant to provide comprehensive, easy to access, and affordable coverage to individuals and small businesses in Wisconsin. It is therefore alarming to see that those anticipated to speak up for women’s unique health needs, consumer representatives, so vastly outnumbered on these Exchange stakeholder working groups. We hope to see the Commissioner of Insurance, Ted Nickel, rectify this underrepresentation before these groups get to work.
By request, this blog has been updated to show the composition of the Exchange Working Group by gender. Though this break-down cannot be made for all the announced stakeholder groups, because many spots are reserved for companies and not individuals, the “catch all” Exchange Working Group does identify individuals. This group is composed of 70% men and consumers are outnumbered 9:1.