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Illinois doctors applaud Gov. Pritzker’s signing of bills to protect patients from predatory insurance practices

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Commentary: Today, Illinois physicians commended Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for their leadership in passing the Healthcare Protection Act (HB 5395 and HB 2499), which will protect Illinoisans from exploitative insurance practices and better ensure access to affordable, comprehensive health care.

“Illinois leaders have taken a decisive step toward putting the power back in the hands of patients and their doctors with the Healthcare Protection Act, ensuring that health insurance practices prioritize patient care over profit,” said Dr. Shikha Jain, board-certified hematology and oncology physician practicing in Chicago. “For too long, insurance companies have used predatory practices to restrict patients’ access to care and boost profits. Unfair insurance practices have exploited patients looking to save money on premiums, only to leave them without necessary coverage when they need it most. By banning junk insurance plans, Illinois is protecting patients from being buried in devastating medical expenses from phony plans that fail to meet their medical needs. The Healthcare Protection Act also means patients no longer have to jump through so many hoops to get the medically necessary care their doctors have prescribed for them.”

The Healthcare Protection Act bans step therapy, the process of trying multiple less-effective treatments before the coverage of the doctor’s prescribed treatment is granted, and bans prior authorization for in-patient mental health treatment. The bill requires insurance companies to publicly disclose any treatments requiring prior authorization. Lastly, it requires that large group plans must obtain prior approval from the Department of Insurance before increasing rates, ensuring premiums align with the actual cost of providing health care insurance.

Short-term, limited duration plans are notorious for lacking essential coverage for critical health services, including maternity care, mental health treatment, and coverage for pre-existing conditions. These plans often leave patients exposed to significant medical debt, undermining the financial stability of families across Illinois. With the implementation of HB 2499, Illinois joins states like Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, and others in banning such insurance plans, ensuring that residents have access to meaningful and comprehensive health coverage.

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