illinois guide to health insurance

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Illinois health insurance exchange

Latest IL enrollment count: 287K

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As of Jan. 16, 286,888 Illinois residents have selected health plans through With four more weeks of signups still to be tallied, 2015 enrollment is about 132 percent of 2014 enrollment.

Feb. 15 is deadline to enroll or make changes

First-time consumers can sign up for new coverage and those who have 2015 coverage can make changes up until Feb. 15.

Officials are encouraging individuals whose coverage was automatically renewed to take a look at their options for 2015. Given that subsidy levels, personal circumstances, and health plans offerings can all change, a new plan may be a better fit  in 2015.

Even if you kept your 2014 health plan for 2015, be sure to update your income and document any important life changes (like a new job or a baby) on This information is used to determine you qualify for a subsidy and, if so, how much.

No action on state-run exchange

Illinois runs its marketplace, Get Covered Illinois, as a partnership with the federal government. State residents use the federal marketplace,, to enroll.

Outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn consistently supported a state-run exchange. A bill authorizing a state-run exchange passed the Illinois Senate in 2013, and there was hope the House might give its support during the 2014 fall veto session. However, sponsors did not have enough support to bring the bill to a vote.

Rep. Robyn Gabel had hoped the issue would gain traction, given that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether premium subsidies can be lawfully provided in states that don’t run their own health insurance exchange. By transitioning to a state-run exchange, Illinois would have secured ongoing subsidies for its residents regardless of how the Court rules.

Now, a state-run exchange is unlikely for the foreseeable future. The federal government is no longer providing new establishment grants, and Illinois would be challenged to fund startup costs on its own.

2015 rates up slightly on Get Covered Illinois

The Illinois Depart of Insurance summarized 2015 premium increases by metal level:

  • Lowest gold plan average: 3.7 percent increase
  • Lowest silver plan average: 2.6% increase
  • Lowest bronze plan average: 11% increase

More than half of 2014 enrollees in Illinois selected a silver plan.

2015 participating insurers

More health plans are competing for business on the Illinois exchange for the 2015 plan year. The Illinois Department of Insurance announced that ten insurers are selling 410 health plans, including 17 options that are available statewide. For the 2014 plan year, six insurers offered 165 policies in Illinois.

Three new companies are participating in the Illinois marketplace for 2015: Time Insurance Company (Assurant Health), United Healthcare, and IlliniCare Health. IlliniCare Health is a partnership of Centene and several Chicago hospitals. Centene is a large player in the managed Medicaid market, and it entered the individual insurance market through the ACA marketplaces in several states in 2014.

Small business exchange

Illinois is one of five states where small businesses (those with between 2 and 50 employees) had early access to the federal Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) online portal. Online enrollment functionality had been delayed so technical staff could work on fixing the marketplace used by individuals. Without the online function available, small businesses had been limited to working with a broker or by submitting a paper application to sign up for SHOP coverage.

Users in the early launch states experienced some problems with the SHOP according to The New York Times. Issues included some health plans not being displayed and glitches when using Firefox or Internet Explorer web browsers to access the site.

As of Nov. 15, the online SHOP was available in all states that use

Nationally, SHOP enrollment has been limited according to a GAO report. As of June 2014, only about 76,000 people had enrolled through state-run SHOP exchanges; federal SHOP data was not available for the GAO report.

Illinois is delaying the launch of “employee choice” on SHOP exchange. The option allows employees of small businesses that use the SHOP to select from a range of plans rather than being limited to a single plan selected by their employer. The federal government let states that use the federal marketplace choose if they want to implement employee choice for 2015. Illinois is one of 18 states that is delaying implementation of employee choice.

A recap of 2014 enrollment

About 217,500 Illinois residents enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs) during 2014 open enrollment and 468,000 have signed up for Medicaid as of Sept. 30. Get Covered Illinois announced that the state exceeded the initial enrollment target set by the federal government by 52 percent.

Of those Illinois residents who selected a QHP, 77 percent qualified for financial assistance, compared to 85 percent nationally. An HHS report showed the average monthly premium, after tax credits, for Illinois consumers was $105. Twenty-five percent of enrollees pay $50 or less per month after subsidies.

Twenty-nine percent of Illinois residents selected a bronze plan (20 percent nationally), 56 percent selected a silver plan (65 percent nationally), 15 percent selected a gold plan (9 percent nationally), 1 percent selected a platinum plan (5 percent nationally) and 0 percent selected a catastrophic plan (2 percent nationally). Thirty-one percent of Illinois enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.

History of the Illinois exchange

Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration announced in July 2012 that the Illinois marketplace would operate as a state-federal partnership. Quinn had hoped to leverage the partnership model as an interim step toward a state-run marketplace for the 2015 coverage year. However, a state exchange bill passed in the Senate in 2013 didn’t get a vote in the House. As noted above, there was some hope that exchange legislation will be considered during the fall 2014 session. However, the House did not take up the issue. Advocates fear it may be 2018 or later before the state takes over sole control of the exchange.

More than 685,000 Illinois residents enrolled in private insurance or Medicaid since October 2013, and the state’s uninsured rate in Illinois dropped more than 3 points according to a Gallup survey.

The drop in the uninsured rate is definitely good news. However, about 12 percent of state’s population remains uninsured, and officials know they need to make an even bigger effort to reach those who still don’t have coverage. Officials awarded nearly $26 million to 37 organizations to target last year’s hard-to-reach groups, including Latinos, African Americans, and Millennials.

Get Covered Illinois hired Onion Labs to build a campaign to reach Millennials. The campaign features the fictional Luck Health Plan and the tagline: “You’ll be okay. Probably.”

In January, Get Covered Illinois launched an ad targeting same-sex married couples. While the uninsured rate for low- and middle-income LGBT people dropped from 34 percent to 26 percent from 2013 to 2014, it is still much higher than the overall national average.

Illinois health insurance exchange resources

Get Covered Illinois

Illinois Health Matters
Information resource on health care reform

Health Care Assistance
Office of the Attorney General
877-305-5145 (toll-free nationwide) TTY: 312-964-3013
Serves residents enrolled in private health insurance

Office Consumer Health Insurance and the Ombudsman for the Uninsured 
Illinois Department of Insurance
877-527-9431 (toll-free nationwide)
Serves residents who are uninsured as well as residents who have health insurance problems or questions.