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Rates for most exchange plans decreasing next year

Rates for most exchange plans decreasing next year

Most Illinoisans who buy health insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange will pay less next year.

Rates for the lowest cost silver plans are decreasing 4 percent on average, and premiums for the second lowest cost silver plans are decreasing 3 percent, according to an analysis from the Department of Insurance released Wednesday.

The cheapest gold plans are decreasing by an average of 6 percent. The lowest cost bronze plans are increasing 6 percent.

“We think that is a sure sign of stabilization of the market, at least for the sick and subsidized population,” Department of Insurance Director Jennifer Hammer told Health News Illinois.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Celtic Insurance Co., Cigna and Health Alliance Medical Plans are again offering plans on the exchange for 2019.

Wisconsin-based Quartz is joining the ACA market in Stephenson, Ogle, Boone and Winnebago counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the lone exchange insurer in those counties for 2018. It will still be the only insurer on the exchange in Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lake, Lee, Madison, McHenry, Monroe and St. Clair counties.

Hammer is hoping re-enrollment numbers will stay consistent for 2019. But she expects a drop-off in the bronze plans, as consumers who previously bought at that level may be drawn to the Trump Administration’s expansion of short-term policies and association health plans. The elimination of the individual mandate penalty will also play a role, Hammer said.

“People are really still unable to afford health insurance if they don’t have subsidies,” she said.

During last year’s open-enrollment period, 334,979 people in Illinois selected a plan.

Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 and lasts until Dec. 15.

Health News Illinois is a nonpartisan, independent news service covering the Illinois healthcare beat. Sign up for a free trial to the newsletter here.

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