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Illinois's health insurance market will be altered by bills signed by Pritzker

Illinois's health insurance market will be altered by bills signed by Pritzker

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a regulation Tuesday that will emphatically adjust the health care coverage market in Illinois.

The actions lay out a state-based trade for strategies sold under the Reasonable Consideration Act and give the Illinois Division of Protection the position to change or reject proposed rate increments.

During a ceremony to sign a bill in Chicago, Pritzker stated, "Since the beginning of my administration, I’ve been committed to making health care more equitable, holistic, and accessible." We are not only expanding affordable access to preventative care through these bills, but we are also improving the quality of life for millions of Illinoisans."

People who aren't eligible for Medicaid but don't have access to affordable health insurance through their employer can buy subsidized policies through an online exchange run by the federal government or their state government under the Affordable Care Act.

Illinois, nonetheless, was among the states that decided not to set up their own trade. Instead, it charges residents of Illinois an annual fee to use the federal exchange.

That will change because of House Bill 579, which requires the Branch of Protection to lay out a state-based trade by 2026.

Dana Popish Severinghaus, overseer of the Protection Division, said during a meeting after the bill's passage that having a state-based trade eventually will make it simpler for Illinois purchasers to look for protection.

"I believe it's eventually our objective that Illinois purchasers can have an all-in-one resource where, whether they need to sign up for an ACA plan or a Medicaid plan or, you know, their family is parted, we can do that in one spot for them to make it as simple as could really be expected," she said.

Having a state-based exchange, Pritzker said on Tuesday, will allow Illinois to offer more enrollment periods throughout the year than the federal exchange does and work with nonprofit organizations that help people navigate the market.

However, perhaps more importantly, Pritzker asserted, it will safeguard Illinois consumers from alterations to federal policy. The annual number of enrollment days was roughly cut in half under the Trump administration, and funding for advertising and nonprofit organizations that assist individuals in signing up for insurance was drastically reduced.

"That's what I'm recommending, assuming that Joe Biden were to lose re-appointment to a conservative, that individuals broadly would lose their medical care or lose their admittance to that government trade, yet they will not lose admittance to the Illinois trade," Pritzker said.

Additionally, Pritzker signed House Bill 2296, which for the first time grants insurance regulators in 41 other states the authority to review proposed changes to health insurance rates and, if necessary, modify or reject those proposed changes.

Companies that provide individual and small group health insurance policies will be required, beginning in 2025, to submit their proposed rates to the Insurance Department, which will then publish those rates on its website. The department will either approve, modify, or reject the proposed rate changes following a 30-day public comment period.

The bill also requires the department to publish an annual report on health insurance coverage, affordability, and cost trends in Illinois, including trends in the cost of prescription drugs and other major services; usage designs by significant assistance classes; changes in benefit effects; trends in enrollment; and shifting demographics.

State Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, said during a different meeting before the bill's passage that those changes will make the evaluation of health care coverage more straightforward for shoppers and empower controllers to decide if customers are being cheated.

She stated, "The insurance industry files their plans with the Department of Insurance, and despite the department going through the actuarial process, they cannot reject a rate."

She stated that the new law will allow regulators to reject rates that are unreasonablely high as well as rates that are so low that they could put the insurance company's financial security at risk.

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