Blue Cross, UnitedHealthcare return to Illinois Obamacare exchange

Crain’s Chicago Business Reports:

“Aetna is returning to sell plans on the Illinois health insurance exchange after taking a year off.

Also returning are giants Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois, the dominant insurer in the state; UnitedHealthcare, which is affiliated with Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth Group, and Chicago-based Land of Lincoln Health.

Mostly familiar faces are returning to the exchange for enrollment that begins Nov. 1, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance. Other companies that received federal approval to sell plans include:

—Health Alliance, based in downstate Urbana.
—Celtic Insurance, which is part of St. Louis-based Centene Corp.
—Coventry Health, part of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna.
—Harken Health, of which UnitedHealth Group is an investor.
—Humana, based in Louisville, Ky.

Assurant Health, whose parent company is leaving the health insurance business, is not coming back after selling plans last year.

Each company is approved to sell health plans to consumers, but only Health Alliance, Blue Cross and Land of Lincoln are selling to small businesses. Land of Lincoln, though, isdrastically limiting enrollment this year to survive. Small businesses in particular will be impacted.

It’s still unknown how many plans and what type federal officials approved to be sold to Illinois consumers and businesses. Eight companies offered more than 400 plans on the Obamacare exchange for the enrollment period that ended in February.

Born out of the Affordable Care Act, the exchanges launched nationwide in 2013 to stir competition in the health insurance industry and give consumers and small businesses a place to shop online for health plans.

Illinois routes people through its exchange, Get Covered Illinois, to, where those who fall below certain income levels can use federal subsidies to buy health plans. Illinois is among 37 states that send people to the federal exchange to buy plans. Other states have created their own online marketplaces.


Nearly 350,000 Illinois consumers enrolled in an Obamacare plan for the enrollment period that ended in February, climbing about 60 percent from the first year of the exchange.

Get Covered Illinois has undergone dramatic changes in recent months. Federal grant dollars that helped states grow and promote the exchanges is running out. Get Covered laid off the bulk of its staff and moved from the governor’s office into the Illinois Department of Insurance in August. Karin Zosel, who led the exchange, left her role after just five months on the job.

Heading into the new enrollment period, Get Covered aims to rely heavily on brokers, health care providers and nonprofits to help find new enrollees and maintain current ones.”