2 months, 1 week ago Ben Yount
Will the new law live up to its hype?
In less than a week, people in Illinois — and around the country — will get their first chance to log on to the new Obamacare insurance exchanges.
Illinoisans got a glimpse of the sparse information they’ll find on the exchange Tuesday when the state released some premium information. Yet there are still a number of unanswered questions. Illinois Watchdog takes a look at five of them.
Illinois bragged that premiums on the Obamacare exchange are “25 percent less” than what was expected. But as Illinois Watchdog previously discussed , lower than expected is still not low cost.
The bare-bones policy for a young, healthy man in Chicago comes with a $120 premium. But the price skyrockets as people get older, and further away from Chicago.
So while a nonsmoking millennial in the state’s largest city is paying “only” $120 a month, a middle-aged man in southern Illinois is paying $522 for the same plan.
Will the marketplace work?
Just like Jurassic Park, Obamacare may sound easy enough to pull off, but snafus occur.
In this case, dinosaurs won’t try to dine on visitors if systems malfunction, but plenty of headaches could occur.
At its heart, the marketplace is a website and it is has never been tested.
“The new eligibility system is expected to launch Oct. 1 at the same time as the marketplace website (which is ) being constructed by the federal government,” Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance, told Illinois Watchdog Tuesday.
Many states are already telling insurance shoppers to expect technical delays and problems. The White House said earlier this month  Oct 1 will be a “soft launch” date.
Where is the sales pitch?
Television viewers in Illinois have already seen those creepy ads with an even creepier Uncle Sam warning young people about Obamacare. Where’s the spots promoting the program?
Illinois will spend between $30 million and $35 million  to create an entire advertising and marketing plan to sell the president’s health reforms. But those ads haven’t aired yet.
“Obamacare supporters have their work cut out for them,” said Jonathan Ingram, director of health policy for the Illinois Policy Institute. “After all, it’s probably pretty hard to market a law that’s set to increase individual health insurance premiums by more than 50 percent in Illinois.”
What about people NOT currently on Medicaid?
Fully one half of Obamacare involves adding hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois to the state’s Medicaid rolls.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration estimates 342,000 people will apply for a state medical card, while Republican lawmakers say the number will be closer to 700,000.
Illinois is counting on the federal government to always pay no less than 90 percent of the Medicaid costs for those newly eligible Medicaid patients, worth $1 billion next year.
What about the people on Medicaid?
For millions of Illinois residents, Obamacare will mean little or nothing. More than 2 million people are already on Medicaid in the state.
State Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, knows that number by heart now.
“One in five people in Illinois are on Medicaid. One in three children in the state are on a medical card. And half the babies born in the state last year were born to mothers on Medicaid,” Bellock said.
Those people will not be moved off of Medicaid by Obamacare. A state effort to trim the Medicaid rolls is ongoing in light of the upcoming influx of patients. Officials believe one in three people on Medicaid in Illinois shouldn’t be.
Contact Benjamin Yount at BYount@Watchdog.org  and find him on Twitter @BenYount.