Senator: Race Is Part Of Criticism Of Obama Health Law

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Sources: UnitedHealth to enter Illinois exchange –

The study found that health insurance premiums, on average, are “responsive to competition” and the success of the exchanges is largely dependent on attracting both consumers and insurers. United held just more than 6 percent of the market for individual plans in Illinois in 2012, but it walked away from a majority of that business for 2014, saying it was evaluating the exchanges in Illinois and other markets. It continues to offer a handful of health plans in Illinois that don’t comply with new regulations set forth under the health law, often called Obamacare, under a subsidiary called Golden Rule Insurance Co. United’s intent to submit 2015 policies for the Illinois exchange was outlined by two sources familiar with the company’s plans who were not authorized to discuss them publicly. Both sources noted that the plans are not final and could be subject to change. The company’s apparent renewed interest in the market does not come as a surprise, particularly because Illinois is a large market where United already has a footprint and existing contracts and relationships with health care providers and consumers, Dafny said. It also signals that “they think they can make a go of it, they need to shore up their position in the market and they’re not ready to cede this market,” she said. Still, it faces an uphill battle trying to woo consumers away from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which controls about 92 percent of the market, enrolling about 200,000 of the 217,492 Illinoisans who selected plans through the end of the open enrollment period in April. “Blue Cross has such a formidable position in the market, it’s hard to imagine United closing that gap,” said Steve Riedl, senior consulting actuary at Towers Watson. While he and other insurance market experts were surprised by Blue Cross’ market share this year, he said the competition should tighten a bit next year as more competitors come onboard and existing companies hone their pricing, provider networks and marketing.,0,4419523.story

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