Wisconsin | Winter | 2009 | Health Plan Analysis

At a time when many states are looking to pare back healthcare programs as a way to close budget deficits, Wisconsin is taking the opposite route. Despite facing a gloomy nationwide economic forecast and a staggering $5.7 billion two-year state budget deficit, state lawmakers are crafting plans to bring extra dollars to the state while at the same time expanding-rather than cutting-healthcare services. However, Gov. Jim Doyle's plan to provide affordable healthcare options to small businesses has hit a roadblock, and its launch date is now in limbo. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's burgeoning unemployment rate could force more into the individual market, where a host of health plans operate, as well as into the state's public programs and high-risk pool. On the employer front, many in the state have turned toward high-deductible, consumer-driven offerings while commercial HMO membership has declined somewhat.