By: Nancy R. Mathieson*


The 2014 enrollment period for Obamacare health insurance was Oct. 1, 2013 to April 19, 2014. Open-enrollment for 2015 begins November 15th. Here’s a recap for Illinois:


Who signed up? The federal government reports more than 217,000 people in Illinois enrolled, with no differentiation made between those who bought and those who bought and paid. Of that total, 104,000 or nearly half enrolled between March 1st and April 19th. A new McKinsey survey reports a large majority of people signing up in the U.S. are now paying for their coverage (83%). The survey also notes only about 26% of enrollees nationally signing up for individual coverage were previously uninsured. If you apply that number to Illinois, of the new enrollees only about 56,000 were previously uninsured.  Illinois Policy Inst. cites that figure as only about 3% of the state’s approximately 1.6 million uninsured residents.


How many are federally subsidized? 168,000 or 77% of the Illinois enrollees purchased insurance with the help of federal subsidies.


Which type of plans did they buy? In Illinois, 56% chose a mid-level Silver plan, 29% selected Bronze (lower-coverage) and 15% enrolled in Gold (higher-coverage).


Aside from those Obamacare enrollees, how many new Medicaid enrollees has Illinois signed up? About 287,000 enrolled in Medicaid. Unlike the federal marketplace, Medicaid enrollment continues throughout the year. So, in total, the number of newly enrolled in Illinois in Obamacare and Medicaid (217,000 plus 287,000) is about a half-million.


How many of the newly insured are Latino? Latinos historically have had the highest rate of uninsured. The Chicago Tribune reported nearly 500,000 Latinos were eligible (e.g., U.S. citizen, do not have employer insurance) including 215,000 under Medicaid and 278,000 in the marketplace. Only 15,691 signed up, according to federal data. Overall, the Hispanic population skews younger than the general population.


Who are the major insurers? Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois estimates it scooped up 92% of consumers who bought Obamacare plans on the exchange, or approximately 200,000 enrollees. An additional 150,000 enrolled in Blue Cross plans sold off the exchange. Payments for these plans were due May 10th. Blue Cross and Land of Lincoln Health Inc. Co-op, a Chicago-based startup, are the only companies to offer plans on the exchange that cover the entire state.


What do we know about insurance premium costs? The employer coverage mandate doesn’t take effect until 2015, but a recent survey reported by Forbes shows yearly plan renewals are starting to roll and premium jumps are painful. Analysts attribute the rate increases largely to four factors set in motion by Obamacare: 1) commercial underwriting restrictions, 2) age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old, 3) the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and 4) new benefit design. The survey also showed the rate hikes in the small group market have been largest for the Blues plans (almost 16% year over year).


What’s next? I’ll be writing next about what Illinois doctors have to say about changes under Obamacare.

*Nancy R. Mathieson follows Illinois politics and public policy, and held management positions at the New York Stock Exchange and Truth in Accounting.   Twitter @NancyMathieson

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6 years ago

Does this mean the other 97% will pay the penalty? Pretty staggering.

R. Duran
6 years ago

Looks like it would have been a whole lot simpler if we had just gone to Blue Cross and cut some deal to have them do what they are doing. Look at those numbers. This is basically just a big Blue Cross program.