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ACA Health Plans In Illinois: Steady Rates Overall, But Some Counties Have Limited Options

Dave Kovaluk/St. Louis Public Radio

Most people in Illinois who have insurance through the Affordable Care Act won’t see big changes to their monthly premiums next year, according to a report released this week by the Illinois Department of Insurance.

On average, there will be a slight decrease in overall rates. This comes after several years of rising rates for ACA health plans nationwide.

IDOI presented an analysis of the 2020 Illinois Exchange on Monday, ahead of the Open Enrollment period, which goes from November 1 through December 15.

Five insurers will offer coverage throughout Illinois. In most Illinois counties, people will have at least two insurers to choose from.

Credit Screenshot from IDOI Analysis of Illinois Exchange Plans
n most Illinois counties, people seeking health insurance through the ACA Marketplace will have at least two insurers to choose from.

However, six counties will have only one: DeKalb, McHenry and Lake counties in northern Illinois, and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties in southern Illinois.

For people who live in parts of the state with only one insurer, it could be difficult to find a plan that meets their health needs, said Adani Sanchez, a federally certified application counselor with Champaign County Health Care Consumers.

But in general, she advises people looking at ACA health plans to consider which services they need most.

“Is it most important to have a really cheap premium, or is it most important that this really specialized medication you’re on is covered?” Sanchez said. “Is it really important to keep your doctor, or are you willing to switch to a different doctor if it means that your premium can be cheaper?”

Most people who buy exchange plans receive subsidies to help them offset costs. For those who don't qualify, monthly premiums can range from $200 to more than $500 a month, depending on the level of coverage.

Sanchez said even if a person already has a plan through the ACA Marketplace, they should still update their information online “because even if your income hasn’t changed, the rate of federal subsidies change with the federal poverty level," and that could mean greater cost savings.

More than 312,000 people enrolled in ACA health insurance plans during open enrollment last year, according to the IDOI. The agency’s website has a search feature that can help people find application assisters in their local area.

Prior to the Open Enrollment period, health plans can be previewed at Healthcare.gov.

Christine Herman spent nine years studying chemistry before she left the bench to report on issues at the intersection of science and society. She started in radio in 2014 as a journalism graduate student at the University of Illinois and a broadcast intern at Radio Health Journal. Christine has been working at WILL since 2015.