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Blue Cross leaving Illinois Obamacare exchange for small businesses

Chicago Sun Times

Wednesday, September 13, 2017  |  Article  |  Mitchell Armentrout

Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will no longer offer group plans for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the company announced this week.


“BCBSIL will continue to offer a variety of plans to small businesses off the exchange to serve the varying needs of our small business employers,” a company spokeswoman said in an email.


When Obamacare went into effect, the federal government predicted that 4 million people would be covered through its Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. It hit less than 6 percent of that goal.


As of January 2017, just 27,000 employers nationwide had SHOP plans covering about 230,000 people, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.


In Illinois, 3,512 workers from 738 businesses were covered under such plans. It’s unclear how many of those were covered by Blue Cross.


Blue Cross’ departure leaves downstate Health Alliance as the only insurer offering an Obamacare exchange plan in 2018 for small businesses, but options for those companies “remain steady,” according to the Illinois Department of Insurance.


“There is no question that major structural flaws in the [Affordable Care Act] have forced higher insurance rates and separated families from trusted physicians and hospitals,” insurance department director Jennifer Hammer said in a statement. “We continue to strive to provide a robust insurance market but without changes to our health care system consumers may be faced with more hardship in the future.”


Blue Cross and Blue Shield will still offer individual plans through Obamacare, although they, along with other insurers, plan to hike rates by more than 38 percent for next year.