State’s insurance marketplace open for business

• Individuals must have health insurance by Feb. 15, 2014, to avoid paying penalty

Staff Report

CHICAGO — Oct. 1, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) launched Get Covered Illinois, the state’s comprehensive education and enrollment online platform for uninsured residents to sign up for health coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). is the website marketplace where individuals, families and small business owners can get connected to their new health insurance options with coverage starting Jan. 1. The state is working with community groups in every corner of the state to provide direct enrollment assistance.

The following eight companies are part of Illinois’ insurance marketplace: Aetna Life Insurance Company; Coventry Health and Life Insurance Company; Coventry Health Care of Illinois, Inc.; Health Alliance Medical Plans, Inc.; Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company (Blue Cross); Humana Health Plan, Inc.; Humana Insurance Company; and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Company.

All Marketplace plans cover important health benefits, including doctor visits, hospital stays, maternity care, emergency room visits, mental health services, chronic disease management, prescriptions and more.

No one will be denied coverage because they are sick or have a pre-existing condition like asthma, diabetes or cancer. Preventive care will be covered at no cost to the patient.

Individuals and families with income of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — $45,000 for individuals and $95,000 for a family of four — will receive subsidies on a sliding scale if they obtain coverage through the marketplace.

Get Covered Illinois is for any Illinois resident who had insurance, lost it and wants it again; residents who could never afford or obtain insurance before; or for those who have never attempted to get insurance but now must comply with the law.

From Oct. 1 to March 31, officials hope to enroll at least 300,000 in the marketplace. Enrollment can take place online; with the help of a trained specialist over the phone by calling the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk at 866-311-1119; or in person at a state community partner with trained navigators to assist. The website will feature community partner locations by ZIP code. includes a screening tool that asks users several simple questions about their income and family size and then directs them either to the marketplace or to ABE ( — the state’s new smart online application system where consumers can apply directly for Medicaid, nutrition and income assistance.

The Get Covered Illinois Help Desk will provide support to Illinois consumers by answering basic questions about the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, including questions about general eligibility for marketplace plans and exemptions from the individual responsibility provision, how tax credits and cost-sharing reductions work, and how to find someone who can provide personal assistance.

To begin receiving coverage Jan. 1, 2014, those interested need to apply by Dec. 15, 2013. Feb. 15, 2014, is the federal deadline by which all people must obtain health insurance to avoid paying a penalty. Maximum penalty for those who do not have coverage for an entire year is $95 or 1 percent of your taxable income, whichever is greater. The penalty is expected to rise in future years.

For more details, visit

From the Oct. 16-22, 2013, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!