Governor Rauner, veto HB 2624
Illinois HB 2624, introduced by Representative Laura Fine, limits the duration of short-term health insurance plans to 181 days. The intent of HB 2624 is to ensure that healthier people do not enroll in the short-term health insurance plans that will be able to last up to 36 months without new underwriting under the new Health and Human Services guidelines, thus preserving the Illinois exchange.
This is a significant event for those who do not have access to employer-sponsored group health insurance such as sole proprietors (hairdressers, business startups, realtors trying to find home buyers, consultants, skilled tradesmen, etc.) in Illinois. According to the IRS, there are 974,303 sole proprietors in Illinois. Many are covered via their spouse, some via the exchange, some elect to be uninsured. Allowing people to purchase up to 36 months of health insurance coverage (albeit not as comprehensive as the ACA, as short-term policies typically have a pre-existing conditions exclusion, do not cover maternity, offer limited to non-existent mental health coverage, offer limited prescription drug coverage) and allowing them to enjoy lower premiums that allow them to enjoy the fruits of their labor or commit more resources to growing their business by seeing a reduction in their health insurance premiums must be seen as a good idea against a backdrop of a 32% increase in income tax rates, leadership in state outmigration (number two behind New York according to the Chicago Business Journal) and $250 billion in unfunded pension liability (Moodys).
In Illinois, 339,740 residents signed up for the Affordable Care Act taxpayer exchange in 2018. 83% of those signed up for coverage on the exchange received substantial taxpayer subsidies that shielded the insured from the actual cost of their health insurance (healthinsurance.org). Those earning more than 400% of Federal Poverty Level had to pay the actual cost of their insurance. For example, a family of four in Belvidere, ages 50, 49, 22 and 20, all non-smokers with a $3,750 deductible and a $7,350 out of pocket will cost you $2,449.26/month if you earn more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Yes, you read that right. $7,350 out of pocket and your premium will be $2,446.26/month.
Governor Rauner needs to stand up for the nearly one million sole proprietors, veto HB 2624 and give residents of Illinois access to affordable health insurance that never materialized under the Affordable Care Act. To afford these residents six months of short-term health insurance coverage (and the resultant nearly 70% reduction in premium costs -- for six months) when neighboring states will be following the Health and Human Services 36-month guideline (and the nearly 70% reduction in premiums for 36 months) is a gut punch to the sole proprietors of Illinois who are the engine of new business creation in our state. Let’s not drive away more of our most productive citizens. Let’s have a functioning health insurance market that serves the interests of the middle class.