Illinois seems to be working its way from the Affordable Care Act to the Unaffordable Care Act, and state regulators are not helping.
UnitedHealthcare already announced that it would no longer participate in Illinois’ Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, called Get Covered Illinois. Costs were higher and participants were sicker than anticipated, so the health insurer that in 2016 offered Obamacare plans in 34 states was cutting back for 2017 to three states and Illinois will not be one of them.
In April the insurers who will be participating in the Illinois health insurance exchange had to tell the Illinois Department of Insurance what their rates would be in 2017. So what’s the bad news?
They won’t say. If other states’ announced hikes are a good predictor of ours, Illinois residents could see rates increase by roughly 50 percent.
The department’s acting director, Anne Melissa Dowling, will not release the 2017 rate information until its mandatory publication date of Aug. 1. She considers the rates to be exempt from the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
So why should you care?
The Aug. 1 release is about a month before the state regulators issue their report on the rates. If the public or the public watchdog groups want to react to the rates, there is little time to do so.
Thirty-one of the nation’s states have already released the information, including our neighbors to the east and west. When consumer groups get access to the rate info, they usually are able to push back and get rate hikes reduced.
Illinois should be transparent about the coming health insurance rates. Now that Obamacare forces people into the insurance pool or taxes them because they are not, the state is obligated to help control consumer costs.