FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6/24/2017
FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:
John Maszinski
Office: 312-580-6440
E-mail:johnmaszinski@isms.org
Illinois General Assembly Advances Vital New Health Insurance Consumer Protections
Illinois physicians applaud plan to make insurance plans more transparent and care more accessible.

Springfield, IL - Today, the Illinois House of Representatives passed House Bill 311, the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act (the NAT Act).  The bill was previously approved by the Illinois Senate and will now be transmitted to Governor Bruce Rauner for signature. 

Passage of the NAT Act represents an important victory for patients. This comprehensive legislation creates several new protections for consumers who purchase state regulated private health plans.  Health insurers are increasingly cutting costs by offering plans with access to a limited range of physicians and hospitals. The growth of these "narrow network" plans has resulted in a dramatic reduction in access to health care. 

"The Illinois State Medical Society extends our gratitude to the Illinois General Assembly for having our patients' backs and passing this landmark legislation. The NAT Act empowers consumers to make more informed choices when purchasing health insurance, and offers peace of mind that they are actually getting what they pay for," said ISMS President Nestor A. Ramirez, MD. 

Dr. Ramirez added, "It's important to note that this legislation would not have been possible without the bipartisan leadership of Representative Gregory Harris (D-Chicago), Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin), Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris). Because of them, and the other members of General Assembly who stepped up to speak for H.B. 311 and joined as co-sponsors, Illinois patients will be much better off." 

H.B. 311 Highlights:

  1. Insurance companies will have to make sure their networks meet patients' needs. That means insurance plan networks must have enough health facilities and doctors, including specialists, in close proximity to where their policyholders live.

  2. Health plans must be more transparent. Insurers will be obligated to maintain updated provider directories. If a doctor or hospital is dropped from a network, the insurance company will have to notify patients in a timely fashion to help the patient avoid surprise out-of-network charges. Doctors will also have new patient notification requirements if they choose to leave a network.

  3. Patient care will not be disrupted due to changes in health insurance networks. A patient's doctor may be dropped from the network, but pregnant women or patients with complex conditions will be able to stay with their doctor long enough to make a smooth transition - without getting charged extra.

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Founded in 1840, ISMS is a professional membership association representing Illinois physicians in all medical specialties, and their patients, statewide. Dr. Ramirez is a Champaign-based neonatologist.


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