By Carla Anderson
February 14, 2014
More than 88,500 Illinois residents signed up for a private health plan between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31 according to the most recent enrollment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Enrollment is up from about 61,000 at the end of December. An additional 115,628 people qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Illinois has the 10th highest enrollment among all states and seventh highest among the states that are using HealthCare.gov for enrollment.
Seventy-five percent of Illinois residents who selected a health plan qualified for financial assistance, which is below the national average of 82 percent. To date, about 25 percent of those who have enrolled, nationally and in Illinois, are between the ages of 18 and 34. While Kaiser estimates that young adults need to make up 40 percent of enrollment to keep rates stable, HHS officials were encouraged that the rate of enrollment among 18 to 34 year olds grew faster than any other age group in January. It is widely expected that the trend will continue as advertising and outreach ramp up and the final enrollment deadline approaches.
Enrollment for private insurance in 2014 continues through March 31. About 800 navigators are available in Illinois to help consumers with the enrollment process. You can find a navigator in your area by entering your ZIP code on Get Covered Illinois or by calling 866-311-1119.
Policies purchased by the 15th of the month will be effective the first day of the following month. Individuals who remain uninsured after March may face a tax penalty of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is greater. Federal officials expect the highest number of enrollments to come in the final days before the March 31 deadline. Enrollment for Medicaid or CHIP continues throughout the year.
Several insurers are participating in the Illinois marketplace: Aetna, Coventry, Health Alliance Medical Plans, Health Care Service Corporation (Blue Cross), Humana, and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Company. Get Covered Illinois, the website for the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, provides information about the options available to individuals and small businesses. Illinois residents use HealthCare.gov to sign up for coverage.
Aides to Quinn announced in July 2012 that the Illinois marketplace would operate as a state-federal partnership in its first year. At the time of the announcement, Michael Gelder, the governor’s senior health-care policy adviser, said, “At this point in time, in the situation we’re in, a state-federal partnership is the best way of assuring access to an exchange.” The administration expressed hope that the state could assume sole responsibility for the exchange as soon as 2015.
However — despite Democratic control of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and the governor’s office — Illinois has not passed legislation for a state-run health insurance marketplace. The state House adjourned in June 2013 without voting on a bill to authorize a state-run exchange. The state Senate passed such a bill earlier in the session. Advocates for a state-run exchange now fear it may be 2018 or later before the state takes over sole control of the exchange.
The Quinn administration seems determined to continue toward the state-run model. In July 2013, the state announced a $66.5 million contract with CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc. The IT contractor will build a website when consumers can compare and purchase health insurance and is a fundamental component that state would need to operate its own exchange. To date, Illinois has received nearly $155 million in federal grants to develop an exchange.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1.9 million people in Illinois are uninsured. That’s about 16% of the state’s population.
Get Covered Illinois
State Exchange Profile: Illinois
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Illinois’ progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Health Care Assistance
Office of the Attorney General
1-877-305-5145 (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.
Let your Illinois governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Illinois Governor Pat Quinn