Lawmakers are expected to consider legislation that would create an Illinois health insurance exchange that, if designed right, would help increase choices and lower costs for Illinoisans purchasing health insurance.
There’s no need to start from scratch though. Many states have already taken action to create health exchanges to deliver better value for consumers, and Illinois should follow their lead.
In fact, a report recently released by Illinois PIRG, "Making the Grade: A Scorecard for State Health Insurance Exchanges," closely examines the 12 states that have already created exchanges and rates them according to how accountable they will be to consumers and the public, how much they can do to lower premiums and improve the quality of care, how friendly they will be to consumers, and how stable they will be.
Not all exchanges are created equal. That’s why it’s important to evaluate the policies that will matter most to consumers, including whether the exchange will be protected from insurance industry influence, and if it will negotiate with insurers for better rates.
Among the important policies to consider to make an Illinois exchange consumer-friendly include:
- Giving it the power to leverage enrollee’s buying power to negotiate with insurers for higher-value, more affordable coverage.
- Barring insurers and other industry representatives from serving on the exchange board, so it will be more accountable to the public and to consumers.
- Making sure consumers will have an easier time shopping for coverage through easy-to-use tools and comparisons between plans.
Brian Imus, Director