Senator Gillespie speaks at a podium with the State of Illinois seal on it. The governor and several other people stand behind her.

New laws create state-based insurance marketplace, review process for insurance rate hikes

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to the support of State Senator Ann Gillespie, Illinois residents will have more options when it comes to affordable, quality health insurance. Gillespie’s bill creating a state-based health insurance marketplace and legislation protecting consumers from unnecessary insurance rate hikes have both been signed into law.

"Today, we take a significant step forward in ensuring accessible and affordable health care for all Illinois residents," said Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). "Expanded options and more flexibility in the kinds of coverage offered will allow individuals to choose a plan that meets their needs."

House Bill 579 establishes a state-based health insurance marketplace offering a variety of health insurance plans from different insurers. This state marketplace will allow for options different from those offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace — established under the Affordable Care Act — expanding coverage to those who may be unable to afford a plan on the federal level. Outreach to traditionally underinsured communities will allow more Illinoisans to utilize a plan that works for them and their family.

"By having a state-based marketplace, Illinois can identify specific needs and provide options that will allow more people to get covered," Gillespie said. "This also helps us avoid potential federal disruptions in health care enrollment, meaning Illinois residents can rest assured that they will have consistent access to quality health insurance."

House Bill 2296, a measure Gillespie co-sponsored with State Senator Laura Fine, protects Illinois consumers and small businesses from unfair premium rate hikes. Insurance companies will now be required to provide information about how health premium rates are set. The Illinois Department of Insurance will have the authority to modify or deny rate increases that are not adequately justified. Through annual reports, consumers will gain a greater sense of transparency when it comes to what they pay and why.

House Bill 579 and House Bill 2296 were signed into law Tuesday.