November 30, 2023

Health Insurance

Follow Your Health Insurance

Illinois health insurance marketplace guide 2023

2014: Five insurers offered individual market plans in the Illinois exchange in 2014: Aetna, Health Care Service Corporation (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois), Health Alliance, Humana, and Land of Lincoln (an ACA-created CO-OP).

2015: Time and IlliniCare joined the exchange for 2015, bringing the number of participating insurers to eight, but both insurers only offered plans for one year, exiting the exchange at the end of 2015.

2016: Time/Assurant announced in mid-2015 that they would exit the health insurance market nationwide at the end of the year, so their plans were not available for 2016.

But Aetna, Celtic, and Harken joined the market in 2016. Celtic is the sister company of IlliniCare. Aetna offered plans in the exchange in 2014 under the name Aetna Life Insurance Company, but exited for 2015. They returned for 2016 as a separate legal entity, Aetna Health Inc.

There were nine carriers offering a total of 290 plans for individuals in the Illinois exchange in 2016 (ten if you count Coventry as two separate carriers, which the Division of Insurance does). Three carriers — HCSC, Land of Lincoln, and Coventry — offered plans state-wide.

Health Care Service Corp (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois) covers about 80 percent of the state’s individual market enrollees.

BCBSIL announced in September 2015 that they would not offer their broad PPO (Blue PPO) network for ACA-compliant plans in 2016.

With Celtic’s entry to the market, they were offering the lowest-priced plans in some areas.  This was good news in terms of added competition, but bad news for people who kept their 2015 plans and then received smaller subsidies in areas where Celtic took over the benchmark spot with a premium lower than 2015’s benchmark rate. This was the case in Cook County, where Celtic’s low prices (and very limited network) meant that subsidies decreased for 2016.

There were significantly fewer plans available in Cook County for 2016, but the Department of Insurance noted that this was is primarily because “IlliniCare withdrew multiple plans that offered the same medical benefit packages with the only difference in coverage being the options to have adult dental and/or adult vision. This accounts for a reduction of 44 plans.”

The Department of Insurance confirmed that there are no platinum plans available in the individual market in 2016 in Illinois. There were 81 platinum plans available in 2015, up from 25 in 2014. But they had all been discontinued as of 2016. This has been a trend nationwide, as platinum plans have tended to have very low enrollment rates compared with the other metal levels.

2017: Aetna exited the Illinois exchange at the end of 2016, as was the case in 11 of the 15 states where they offered exchange plans in 2016. UnitedHealthcare also exited the exchange, and so did Harken Health, which had offered plans in the Chicago area in 2016 (Harken also left the exchange in Georgia; Illinois and Georgia were the only two states where Harken offered plans, and they had only joined the exchanges for the first time in 2016).

In 2016, there were two separate Coventry entities offering plans in the Illinois exchange: Coventry Health & Life Insurance Co. as well as Coventry Health Care of Illinois, Inc. The Illinois Department of Insurance confirmed that Coventry would not offer plans in the exchange in 2017.

So Harken, Aetna, Coventry, and UnitedHealthcare exited at the end of 2016, and Land of Lincoln Health was placed in liquidation in the fall of 2016, with coverage ending September 30, 2016 (details on the departures are below). But Cigna joined the exchange in the Chicago area for 2017. So the Illinois exchange had five carriers offering plans for 2017, down from nine in 2016.

2018: Humana, one of the five insurers that offered plans in the Illinois exchange in 2017, exited the individual health insurance market nationwide at the end of 2017. Illinois has 13 rating areas, and Humana offered coverage in 2017 in northern Illinois, in three full areas (5, 7, and 8) and in part of rating area 10.

Celtic, HAMP, HCSC (BCBSIL), and Cigna continued to offer plans in the Illinois exchange for 2018.

2019: Celtic, HAMP, HCSC (BCBSIL), and Cigna all continued to offer plans for 2019, and they were joined by newcomer Gunderson/Quartz/Unity.

2020: The same five insurers are offering coverage, although Gunderson/Quartz/Unity’s plan name in 2020 is Quartz Health Benefit Plans Corporation.

2021: Bright Health, MercyCare HMO, and SSM Health Plan (WellFirst Health) all joined the exchange in Illinois. Cigna and Celtic/Ambetter both expanded their existing coverage areas.

2022: UnitedHealthcare, Oscar, and Molina joined the exchange in Illinois (UnitedHealthcare offered plans in the marketplace previously, but had exited at the end of 2016).

2023: Bright Health exited, but Aetna joined the exchange, keeping the number of participating insurers at 11.