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Online Health Insurance Marketplace Opens for Business
The state's health insurance marketplace is officially open for business. Early Tuesday morning, many of those shopping for health insurance ran into a few glitches, like error messages on the website and wait times at clinics.
Tuesday morning, Gov. Pat Quinn called the opening of the marketplace a historic day that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans.
The marketplace is a key component of the new federal healthcare law. Consumers can shop online for plans and rates, and learn if they qualify for federal tax credits.
For though who are uninsured and need to use the marketplace, there's a couple ways to get started. Individuals can register online themselves, or can contact a local agency to speak with a certified counselor.
In Springfield, the Family Guidance Center and Urban League can help. The agencies are two of the three places in town that can help enroll clients in insurance. The other is the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, but the department is not yet certified to provide counselors.
Once individuals call and make an appointment, or log in to the online marketplace, the first step in finding coverage is to determine if they qualify for Medicaid, or if they need to use the marketplace to buy private insurance.
If they do need to use the marketplace, Amanda Kozar, Regional Outreach Coordinator for Get Covered Illinois, said they can.
"See what plans might be the best option for them," Kozar said. "Then they'll be able to go in and see what they're actually eligible for as far as the premium tax credits are concerned."
ABC NewsChannel 20 used the cost and subsidy calculator tool, recommended by the marketplace website. Using the average household size and income for Illinois, we received these results:
For a family with two adults and a child, earning about $56,000, the family would pay $5,206 per year, or 9.2 percent of the household income. This covers 70 percent of the cost of the premium. In addition, the family would receive a tax credit up to $2,225. With those tax credits factored in, monthly payments would be just under $250 per month. That price will change based on what level of coverage is purchased.
Camron Jiannoni plans to enroll in health insurance through the marketplace soon for himself and his child. He knows paying for the coverage will mean sacrifices, but he believes in the long term it will be a good thing, saving him money on medical costs.
"It's just another bill to pay, but someone is just forcing us to do what we need to do I guess," Jiannoni said.
Susan Padgett told us she opted out of her employer's insurance coverage, because she takes precautions to stay healthy and use natural remedies. Shes not happy about this part of the Affordable Care Act.
"You're being forced to do something we should have a choice about," Padgett said.
For those planning to use the marketplace to buy insurance, beware of scams. GetCoveredIllinois.gov lists some tips for buying insurance under this law. They include checking with the Department of Insurance to make sure you're working with a certified counselor.
Tuesday is only the start of open enrollment. You can continue to shop for an insurance plan and buy coverage through March 31. If you purchase an insurance plan by December 15, you will be covered at the start of 2014. If you don't buy health insurance, you'll pay penalties on your 2014 tax return.