Jordan Wishner is an insurance agent and founder of the Health Insurance Shoppe. Around this time of year, he usually gets about two client calls a day. But this week, he is getting over one hundred a day.
On Tuesday, news broke that the insurance co-op, Land of Lincoln, would be shutting its doors. That leaves 49,000 people scrambling to find new insurance coverage.
The state is hoping to have a special enrollment period on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, so people who are losing their plans can shop around for a new one. But it will likely be hard for many people to find plans that are similar to what they currently have.
Wishner says Land of Lincoln plans “were the most affordable product, that offered the lowest deductible, the richest benefits, and one of the largest networks.”
For many people, this will be the second time they’ve switched plans, in less than a year. Last year Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) narrowed its Affordable Care Act marketplace plans so they didn’t include major hospital systems, like Northwestern. That sent many people running towards Land of Lincoln plans.
Chicago resident, Chris McGeehan, was one of those people. He has a chronic health condition and switched to a Land of Lincoln plan because he wanted to continue seeing his primary care physician and specialist. Now that Land of Lincoln is closing, McGeehan will have to switch yet again. This time he is worried that he won’t be able to find any plans that include his doctors at a price he can afford.
Adding to that financial pain, is the fact that McGeehan had already reached his deductible and was very close to reaching his maximum out of pocket payments. “I’m particularly upset that essentially I’m going to start over,” said McGheehan.
Land of Lincoln is one of 23 insurance co-ops across the country that were created as part of the Affordable Care Act. The hope was that these new, non-profit insurance groups would create more competition, and that competition would create lower price tags on the ACA marketplace. But now only seven of those 23 co-ops are still standing.
Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @shannon_h