Wisconsin's BadgerCare Plus Coverage Expansion and Simplification

Having reached maximum enrollment levels just three months after its launch, Wisconsin’s BadgerCare Plus is receiving increased attention from health reformers around the country. The state was recently forced to cap enrollment for childless adults in its BadgerCare Plus Core program after 33,000 adults had enrolled in the first few months of the program. The program’s enrollment success holds important lessons about program design for those involved in health reform at both the state and national level. The brief finds that substantial increases in enrollment can be achieved by designing programs with key elements including:

  • whole family coverage via expanded eligibility for lower-income parents and caretaker;
  • targeted auto-enrollment;
  • expanded income eligibility limits;
  • relaxed anti-crowd-out provisions for lower income applicants;
  • shift of employer insurance verification responsibilities away from applicants to program administrators; and
  • aggressive outreach and enrollment strategies conducted with community partners.