WASHINGTON – The big story at the nation's capital Wednesday is Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' legislation introducing single-payer health care to rescue the failing Obamacare system.
The story grew in importance this week as Illinois' biggest health care provider – Blue Cross Blue Shield – confirmed to Illinois Review Wednesday that although the company will continue to offer individual and small business plans off the ObamaCare Exchange, they will not offer small group products on the SHOP Exchange in 2018.
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has filed rates and is preparing to participate on the individual retail marketplace for 2018," spokesperson Colleen Miller said in an email. "We are no longer planning to offer small group products on the SHOP exchange. 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."
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMMS) reports had only 738 businesses with SHOP plans in 2017, covering 3,512 lives.
Industry insiders say the SHOP has been almost non-functioning for a while. "The only companies who went on the SHOP were those with under 25 employees with an average payroll of $50K looking for a tax credit," one said.
Illinoisans in the Obamacare Exchange are already facing scant policy choices. A map recently published by CMMS shows much of Illinois down to one or two exchange insurance carriers available. (See above)
Over 47% of counties nationwide are projected to have only one option available to them in 2018, and 29% (or 2,668,625 Exchange participants) nationwide are expected to be without choices.
The lack of profit on the small group SHOP exchange must have been cutting into a BCBS executive’s Country Club dues money!