April 19, 2024

Guest column: Working together to improve health care access, affordability

I am writing about pending legislation in the Illinois General Assembly that targets the accessibility and affordability of health care in Illinois. As the president of the Illinois Life & Health Insurance Council, ensuring that consumers have access to affordable high-quality health care is the council’s top priority and one that we devote our time, energy and resources on achieving.

On March 13, I presented testimony in a subject-matter hearing to the Illinois House Human Services Committee on House Bill 5395. Although I expressed concerns that the legislation as written may have unintended consequences to the detriment of patients, both in terms of high costs and reduced access to medical care, I emphasized our commitment to working with Gov. JB Pritzker and the members of the General Assembly. Working together, we can avoid such harmful unintended consequences and instead successfully expand access to affordable high-quality health care. I know this is the goal we all share.

Laura Minzer, llinois Life & Health Insurance Council president

I’m pleased to say that since that hearing our continued efforts to work together are bearing fruit. The ongoing dialogue between the Illinois Life & Health Insurance Council, the governor’s office and key legislators has generated considerable progress fine-tuning the proposed legislation. We have more work to do – the bill is in the very beginning stages of the legislative process and there remain areas of disagreement – but the spirit of cooperation among all parties is an encouraging sign: we are unified in our commitment to improve health care for all Illinoisans.

While I have been at the council for over five years now, I have spent nearly the entirety of my 25-year career on health care policy-related issues. I am proud to advocate for an industry that employs thousands of patients, consumers, employers and clinicians. The Illinois Life and Health Insurance Council’s members provide a broad range of financial protection products ranging from life, annuity and retirement, dental, vision, supplemental benefits, and of course, health insurance for Illinois employers, individuals and their families – not only in this state but across the nation.

Insurance companies play a critical role in the affordability of health care. In fact, with the costs associated with medical care, it is not an exaggeration to say that insurance companies make health care possible.

No one is more aware of this privileged responsibility than the Illinois Life & Health Insurance Council, which is why we have been working closely for years with members of the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Department of Insurance, and the governor’s office to pursue improvements. In this same spirit as committed partners, we will continue working hard on refining House Bill 5395 in the coming days, weeks and months with the goal being to arrive at legislation that truly improves the accessibility and affordability of health care in Illinois.

• Laura Minzer is president of the Illinois Life & Health Insurance Council.