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Illinois Takes Decisive Step Towards Health Insurance Reform

AARP-backed Legislation Sent to Governor for Signature

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While the U.S. Congress is still working to strike a comprehensive health reform package, Illinois is leading the way for the rest of the nation with legislation aimed at helping consumers who are forced to go the private insurance market to get the care they need. An AARP-backed bill establishing stronger consumer protections in the private health insurance market passed in the Illinois House on Thursday night, and is on its way to the Governor's desk for his signature.

The Individual Health Insurance Fairness Act (House Bill 3923), introduced by State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago), and State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), addresses key barriers facing consumers who struggle with unfair and inconsistent industry practices. The measure was strongly backed by AARP and a coalition of health and consumer advocates.

"Health care should not take a back seat to the interests and unfair practices of the insurance industry," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. "AARP commends Representative Harris and Senator Steans for their leadership on this critical issue, and the General Assembly for passing this bill. We urge the Governor to sign it into law."

"I appreciate the hard work of advocates on all sides of this issue. I think we have shown that we can work hard in Illinois to improve access to healthcare for seniors, families and businesses," said Rep. Harris.

The Individual Health Insurance Fairness Act will:

  • Bring transparency to the insurance industry in Illinois - letting consumers see critical information regarding industry profits and premium increase.
  • Strengthen several important consumer protections measures - expanding the scope of the Office of Patient Protection to cover insurance companies and require an external review process for denied claims.
  • Simplify the complex application process for both individual and small group markets by creating a standard application, making it easier for them to get the coverage they need.

Nationally, over 4 million people have lost their health care since the recession began, while roughly 17 million purchase their own coverage. In the private market, an average annual premium for a family of four has risen to nearly $5,500, while an individual premium costs $2,500 in Illinois. A recent AARP study found that adults aged 50-64 spend roughly 10% of their income on health coverage, and paying three times as much as their peers with employer-sponsored coverage.


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