NU Online News Service, May 21, 2004, 5:38 p.m. EDT – Illinois might start a health insurance purchasing pool for small employers.[@@]

The state’s House and Senate have voted unanimously to approve a health pool study bill, H.B. 4778.

H.B. 4778 calls for the board that runs the state’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan to study the feasibility of setting up a health insurance pool for employers with between 1 and 50 employees.

Illinois set up the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan to provide health coverage for pregnant women and for other state residents who have trouble buying private health coverage because they now have or once had serious health problems.

If H.B. 4778 is signed into law, the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan board will have to analyze other states’ experience in establishing small employer health insurance pools.

The board also will have to “assess the need for a small employer health insurance pool, including the number of individuals who might benefit from it; recommend means of establishing a small employer health insurance pool; and estimate the cost of providing a small employer health insurance pool,” according to the bill text.

The board should evaluate the cost of providing small employer coverage through a private entity, the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan or a new public plan, according to the bill text.

The board is supposed to report on the results of its study by Jan. 1, 2005.

H.B. 4778 was introduced by Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park, Ill.

Links to the bill text and other sources of information about the bill are on the Web at http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=HB&DocNum=4478&GAID=3&SessionID=3&LegID=8892