ObamaCare in Illinois

The editors of the Chicago Tribune note that nobody really knows what impact ObamaCare will have on insurance costs in Illinois:

But the fact is that, five days before the launch of this massively ambitious redesign of national health care, the insurance policies to be offered in Illinois are still a mystery.

Copays? Deductibles? Premiums? Still a mystery.

Will your doctor and your hospital be included in the insurance networks? Still a mystery.

State officials assured us those details will be cleared up on Oct. 1, when the Illinois health care exchange opens for business. We hope so. But the officials also told us that federal regulators still haven’t quite finished tweaking the plans and rates. That’s probably why insurers we contacted this week couldn’t answer our most basic question — will people pay more or less for insurance than they do now?

We do know that the dizzying number of plans and their costs will differ dramatically depending on where you live in the state. Apparently, there’s more competition in Chicago so Chicago has cheaper healthcare. If that’s the case “slim networks”, limiting competition, would seem to be a perverse approach.

They conclude:

Our best advice for Obamacare consumers is: Caveat emptor. Watch for insurance plans that hold down premium prices by restricting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to customers. Insurers “passed over major medical centers in Chicago” and elsewhere in an effort to tamp down costs, according to a new report from the Health Research Institute of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consulting firm. That’s a way for insurers to squeeze bigger discounts out of doctors and hospitals.

The state promises to have 1,200 “navigators” available to help guide people through the maze. We’d like to tell you the phone number or website to reach them but … that’s still a mystery.

8 comments… add one
  • jan Link

    Here in CA I’m hearing about more hospitals not participating in these exchanges – UCLA was recently named as one, which is my medical center of choice.

  • Michael Reynolds Link


    Yeah, lousy Obamacare not including UCLA. Just like Blue Cross.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The highest rates they’ve teased so far were from Champaign, and AFAIK, there is one hospital system there (Carle) with satellite clinics that dominate East Central Illinois. So lack of alternatives are probably a factor, but it would be surprising to me if _average_ healthcare costs were higher there. I would guess that there are cheaper healthcare providers in larger cities, but they may no be preferred.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Google refreshes my memory. Carle was subject to an antitrust lawsuit, which it settled. Carle (with 60% of the physicians in the county) and Christie Clinic (with 30%), agreed to stop taking new Mediaid patients back in 2003 because of the poor / late payment. The combination was intended to put pressure on the state to improve reimbursement, but in the interim effect was to force new patients to the emergency room where reimbursement rates were higher.


    So, I take back my disbelief that Champaign would necessarily have expensive healthcare.

  • steve Link

    Narrowed networks is the preferred method of private insurers for cutting costs. People will have to decide if they want cheaper care with fewer options, or do they want more expensive care with the big university hospitals included. The same thing is going on now. The exchanges dont make this any different except for the fact that people will be able to go online and directly compare similar products.


  • TastyBits Link

    Neiman-Marcus for those who can afford it, and Walmart for everybody else.

    People just getting health insurance are in for a surprise. The hours waiting in the ER are going to be months waiting for an appointment.

    If you have health insurance and a doctor, you probably are not aware of what it takes to become a patient of your doctor. It always seems easier than it actually is.

    “Let them eat cake.”

  • Andy Link

    I have no idea how the PPACA will turn out over the next year. My suspicion is that the effects will vary considerably depending on state, locality and other details. Politically, that will provide fodder for everyone.

  • TastyBits Link


    I agree with you completely, but …

    … Politically, that will provide fodder for everyone.

    This is not a bug. It is a feature.

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