Illinois health insurance marketplace: history and
news of the state’s exchange

BCBS of Illinois and Bright Health offering plans for 2018; cost of CSR added to silver premiums,making other
metal levels particularly affordable

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Louise Norris
Individual health insurance and health reform authority; broker
March 22, 2018

More Illinois coverage

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    • Insurance for those over 64

Highlights and updates

  • 2018 enrollment down 4.6% from 2017
  • One insurer in 2017, but Bright Health joined in 2018
  • Average rate increase 15.6%, including added premiums to cover CSR cost
  • Cost of CSR added to silver exchange, other metal levels particularly cheap for some
  • 2018 rates and new insurer indicate death spiral no longer a danger

Illinois exchange overview

From 2013 to 2016, the uninsured rate went from 12.7% to 6.5% in the state of Illinois. This is mostly due to the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for 2018 in Illinois is shorter than usual, lasting from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017 but it will remain the same for 2019 as well.  

Health Ratings

Illinois’ heath ratings have been getting better and better since 2015. Last year, they ranked 28th in America’s Health Rankings due to their access to primary care doctor and dentists as well as below-average uninsured rates. However, Illinois ranked negatively for air pollution and excessive alcohol use. In the 2017 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, they ranked 27th. The number of uninsured children and adults in Illinois is lower than the national average. Illinois ranks 3rd in the country for number of children with health insurance and 8th in the country for the number of children who had preventative medical and dental care.

Obamacare and Illinois

Illinois has opted to expand their Medicaid. The state uses a state-partnership exchange known as Get Covered Illinois. By 2017, the expanded Medicaid was covering more than 630,000 people and 250,000 people were receiving premium subsidies. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, about 67% of the uninsured nonelderly people in Illinois were likely to be eligible for financial assistance.

Rates and Carriers

In 2018, there are four insurers including:

  • Celtic Insurance Co.
  • Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc.
  • Health Care Service Corporation (Blue Cross Blue Shield)
  • Cigna

Open enrollment for 2017, as well as 2018, declined in Illinois. For 2018, 334,979 people enrolled for coverage which was a 13.7% decrease from the previous year. However, this coincided with national averages.

Illinois and Medicaid

After expanding Medicaid, 46% of uninsured residents now qualified for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2014. From 2013 to 2017, Medicaid enrollment grew by 15% with monthly enrollment exceeding 3 million.

Risk Pool in Illinois

As in other states, residents with pre-existing medical conditions were ineligible to purchase private plans. In 1989, the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan to give those with pre-existing conditions another option. Under the Affordable Care Act, the need for high-risk pools was obsolete. The Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan is still enrolling high risk pool applicants but stopped renewing traditional risk pool members’ coverage after April 30, 2014.


Illinois and Medicare

As of 2015, there were more than 2 million Illinois residents enrolled in Illinois Medicare which is 16% of the state’s population. In Illinois, 85% of Medicare enrollees were eligible on age while the other 15% are due to a disability. Medicare pays $19.2 billion per year in Illinois which is about $9,259 annually per enrollee. About 21% of Illinois Medicare recipients have opted for a Medicare Advantage Plan (national average is 33%).

Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.