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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

A blog by IllinoisHealthMatters.org

Monday, July 25, 2016

Consumer Alert for Individuals and Employer Groups Insured by Land of Lincoln Health

Land of Lincoln Health insurance coverage will end for consumers as of October 1, 2016.  Land of Lincoln is no longer offering health plans for individuals on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov). Land of Lincoln has also stopped offering health plans for employer groups. Please note: it is very important that until October 1, 2016, consumers and employers must continue paying premiums.

Below is an excerpt from the Land of Lincoln Health website instructing consumers and employer groups on coverage options:

IL Department of Insurance Director Dowling has been working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) for purposes of having a special enrollment period opened in order to allow individual insureds an opportunity to obtain replacement coverage during 2016 on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov). CMS will provide Land of Lincoln individual insureds with a special enrollment period (“SEP”) due to a loss of Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC).

Under this SEP,individual insureds have two options:

  1. Individuals may report their upcoming loss of MEC to the Marketplace from August 2, 2016 through September 30, 2016 and enroll in a new plan for coverage commencing on October 1, 2016; or
  2. Individuals may report their recent loss of MEC to the Marketplace from October 1, 2016 through November 29, 2016 and enroll in a new plan for coverage commencing on the first day of the following month.

It is important that individual insureds take note that if they enroll in a new plan on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace prior to their loss of MEC they will have no gap in coverage or any financial assistance they’re receiving, but that if they wait until after they’ve lost MEC to enroll in a new plan there will be a gap in their health insurance coverage and any financial assistance they’re eligible for.

Employer groups should work with their agent or broker to explore their options. If you are an employer group that enrolled in a Land of Lincoln plan on the open market, please work with your agent or broker. Questions for Small Business Health Options Program (“SHOP”) customers can be directed to the call center for the SHOP Marketplace,which is part of HealthCare.gov, at 1-800-706-7893 (TTY711) Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET). Agents and brokers may also use this number.


If you are denied services from a Land of Lincoln provider, please notify the Illinois Department of Insurance. Please call the Consumer Assistance Hotline at (866) 445-5364, and then submit your complaint in writing. Complaints may be submitted in the following ways: Keep your originals and send only copies of information. For a printed copy of the Department’s complaint form, contact the Consumer Assistance Hotline at (866) 445-5364. When your complaint is received, a file number will be assigned and you will be sent written notification of that number. Please refer to the complaint file number when you call or write to the Department. To read the entire Land of Lincoln Health notice, visit their website and read their alert.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Illinois Needs to Protect Consumers in Wake of Land of Lincoln Debacle

The liquidation of Land of Lincoln Health is just the first of mounting hurdles for Illinois consumers and small-business owners shopping for health insurance coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Not only do Illinois consumers wait longer than others across the country to see annual rate increases, but they also have fewer resources to help navigate the marketplace. The state's budget morass means the two state agencies charged with protecting consumer interests and helping consumers connect with coverage options—the Department of Insurance and Get Covered Illinois—are underfunded and ill-prepared to serve the public.

Who will protect consumers' interests in the demise of Land of Lincoln? We keep hearing that the state's insurance department doesn't have the staff to provide information on rate increases to the public until Aug. 1 (even though the department received them from insurers in April). If regulators can't meet the requirements of the ACA in a timely manner, how will they manage the liquidation details for Land of Lincoln? Can consumers count on them to answer critical questions about their now-defunct Land of Lincoln plans?

Questions like: Should I keep paying my premiums to Land of Lincoln? (Yes, you should if you want to be eligible for the special enrollment period plan holders will be offered.) Will I be able to find another plan with my providers in the network at the same price point? What happens if I already met my deductible with Land of Lincoln? Will that carry over to the new plan? And, who will help me find a new plan? Because Get Covered grant funding to help consumers is gone, and insurance carriers reduced or eliminated broker commission for working with clients, Illinois consumers are left with fewer resources when faced with complex health insurance decisions.

We should all be watching how the Department of Insurance addresses the needs of Land of Lincoln policyholders. When Blue Cross & Blue Shield narrowed its networks offered in the marketplace, thousands migrated to Land of Lincoln because of its broader networks with academic medical centers like the University of Chicago. The loss of Land of Lincoln leaves consumers and small-business owners worrying about continuity of care—for themselves and their employees.

This development ensures one thing for the upcoming open enrollment season: Illinois consumers and small businesses will have even less choice, and fewer affordable options that cover a broader network of health care providers.

How the Department of Insurance responds to this crisis is important for all Illinois consumers. We only hope the Rauner administration redirects resources to make sure the Department of Insurance can do its job and do it well.

Barbara Otto and Michelle Thornton Health & Disability Advocates
Reprinted with permission from Crain's Chicago Business