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Brian Imus,
Illinois PIRG

New Report Rates State Health Exchanges

Opportunity Just Weeks Away for Illinois Policy Makers to Lower Costs and Improve Quality
For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – Many states have taken action to create health exchanges to deliver better value for consumers, and Illinois should follow their lead, according to Making the Grade, a new report by Illinois PIRG (Public Interest Research Group).

Health exchanges are competitive marketplaces that can empower individuals and small businesses with better, more affordable options for coverage. The report documents 12 states that have already taken action and grades their ability to deliver better coverage and lower rates. Illinois has yet to take action and remains ‘incomplete’.

“Illinois legislators could consider a bill next week that would help curb out-of-control insurance premium increases,” said Brian Imus, Director of Illinois PIRG.. “In a state where consumers have seen premiums rise on average 181% since 2005, let’s hope lawmakers learn from the experience of other states and do it right.”

The report closely examines the exchanges that have so far been set up by states 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,” continued Imus.  “That’s why we ranked state exchanges according to the criteria 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.                                    

“With only two years before our exchange needs to be open for business, our state needs to get off the starting blocks,” concluded Imus.  “Next week will determine whether our leaders are stepping up and making sure consumers get the high-quality coverage options they need.”

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