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posted: 12/17/2013 12:30 PM

First enrollment deadline for health insurance nears

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Lake County Health Department submission

Monday, Dec. 23, is the deadline for those who want to receive health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1, 2014.

Enroll Lake County, the initiative working to educate and enroll residents in Lake County, has about 88 specially trained counselors, called navigators, available at 27 sites throughout Lake County to assist, answer questions and work with residents to enroll for free.

"The first enrollment deadline is approaching and we want to make sure that community members are aware of the resources that are available to them to help navigate the process," said Tony Beltran, executive director of the Lake County Health Department, the organization that is leading Enroll Lake County.

"We encourage residents to use these resources to sign up for a health plan before the Dec. 23 deadline in order to start the New Year with comprehensive health coverage."

Under the Affordable Care Act, thousands of Illinoisans who were previously unable to get insurance can now get covered. All plans included in the marketplace:

• cover recommended preventive services free;

• include a cap on out-of-pocket costs;

• have no lifetime or yearly dollar limit on coverage;

• will not reject anyone on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

Illinois residents will pay less than residents in many other states under the Health Marketplace and benefits may be even more affordable by subsidies offered by the federal government based on income.

Individuals and families have until March 31, 2014, to enroll in a health plan. But in order to get coverage beginning in January, enrollment must be completed by Dec. 23.

There are several ways for Illinois residents to enroll for health insurance:

• visit GetCoveredIllinois.gov;

• call the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk at (866) 311-1119;

• call Enroll Lake County at (847) 377-4999 to schedule an appointment with a local navigator at no charge.

Recent changes will allow some people who were previously told that their health insurance plans would be canceled by private insurance companies (because they failed to meet a higher level of coverage required by the Affordable Care Act) to renew their existing coverage. Insurance companies will reach out to residents to inform them about their options.

For information about community events and enrollment site locations, visit EnrollLakeCounty.com or GetcoveredIllinois.gov/events.

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