News Local/State

Health Insurance Bills Await Action From Governor Rauner

A doctor holds a stethoscope.


Health care advocates say several bills passed by the Legislature at the end of the spring legislative session would benefit consumers.

HB 4383 would allow Medicaid recipients to change managed care plans if the contract between their provider and health plan is terminated. If Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signs the bill, it would go into effect immediately.

As it stands, Medicaid recipients who enrolled in a plan through Health Choice Illinois on April 1 have until the end of June to switch. After that, they’ll be locked into their current health plan for the remainder of the year.

Claudia Lennhoff, executive director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers, said many patients have been auto-enrolled into plans that may not include their primary care physician.

If they don’t act before the June 30 deadline, they’ll have to find a new doctor.

“We really want to preserve continuity of care,” Lennhoff said. “That's really important, especially for people who have complicated or chronic health conditions. It's really important for them to stay with a provider who knows them, who's worked with them.”

Lennhoff urges Medicaid managed care recipients to not wait until the last minute to check whether their doctor is in their network and their prescriptions are covered.

Information about which plans contract with providers in the Champaign-Urbana area can be found at the Champaign County Health Care Consumers website. The group offers help to consumers who have questions about their plan.

Lennhoff said patients can also visit the Health Choice Illinois website or call 877-912-8880 for help.

Another bill, HB 2624, would ensure people considering short-term health plans know what they’re signing up for.

Lennhoff said people who are going through a transition, such as a job change or a move out of state, may look to short-term health insurance plans to avoid a gap in coverage.

But she said people drawn to the low prices of these plans may be unaware of their shortcomings.

“You don't have guarantees of coverage for preexisting condition, you don’t have guarantee of coverage for different types of services,” Lennhoff said. “You really have to read the fine print to know exactly what you're getting.”

The measure would require insurance companies alert consumers that short-term plans are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act, and they’d be subject to the individual mandate fees.

If Rauner signs the bill, it would take effect in the new year.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman