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Quinn releases some insurance rates for Illinois

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
In this file photo, Jacqueline Saulsberry, a service coordinator at the Illinois Eye Institute, gathers information from patient Shameka Lewis-Coolidge during an appointment in Chicago. Saulsberry is now in training to help Illinois consumers sign up for health insurance in the new marketplace that is the backbone of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Illinois has released some information on prices of the health plans that will be sold on the marketplace.

CHICAGO (AP) – Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration gave residents a partial glimpse Tuesday of what they might pay for coverage on Illinois’ new health exchange, days before the online marketplace that will help form the backbone of President Barack Obama’s health care law opens for business.

Some of the prices are lower than expected, but it’s still unclear whether that’s because there will be less choice among doctors and hospitals covered in the networks of some plans, or whether a few insurers are simply offering bargain prices hoping to gain customers who will stick with them for years to come.

Quinn’s office announced the monthly rates for the lowest-cost plan for a 25-year-old nonsmoker will be $120 in Chicago or $128 in Peoria. For a 40-year-old nonsmoker, the monthly cost of the cheapest plan would be $152 in Chicago or $163 in Peoria. For a 55-year-old nonsmoker, the monthly premium for the cheapest plan would be $266 in Chicago or $284 in Peoria.

Smokers will pay more: a 25-year-old Chicago smoker will pay $132 a month for the cheapest plan, for example.

Illinois is still waiting for final federal approval for 165 health plans offered by eight insurers: Aetna Life Insurance Company, Coventry Health and Life Insurance Company, Coventry Health Care of Illinois Inc., Health Alliance Medical Plans Inc., Health Care Service Corporation (Blue Cross), Humana Health Plan Inc., Humana Insurance Company and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Company.

Most Illinois residents will be able to choose from at least 34 plans when the marketplace goes live Oct. 1. In some parts of the state, the choices will be even greater.

Consumers must wait until next week to learn exactly how much they’ll pay. New tax credits will lower costs for some, depending on household income.

The lower-than-expected prices publicized by the governor’s office are indeed low compared to federal projections, said one independent expert on health insurance pricing.

“People have sharpened their pencils more than probably anyone expected,” said David Axene of the Society of Actuaries. But it’s likely those low-cost plans won’t have broad networks of hospitals and doctors that consumers with good insurance have come to expect, Axene said.

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