Wednesday, December 18, 2013

State officials offer some tips
on signing up for Obamacare

By Jamey Dunn

Illinois public health officials are offering some tips to residents who are trying to sign up for health care coverage through the federal insurance marketplace.

The federal site has reportedly kicked some residents back to the state for Medicaid approval when they are actually not eligible. If  the federal website referred you for Medicaid coverage but you think you are not eligible, state officials recommend that you start over on the state’s website, There you can find out if you are eligible. If you find that you are not, things get a bit more complicated because you still may have trouble signing up for insurance coverage. One option is trying the reset button on the federal site, which is labeled “remove.” The button is intended to scrap your first application. Then you can start fresh. If that does not work, state officials suggest that you make a new account using a different email address. Anyone struggling to enroll online can also call the state assistance line at (866) 311-1119 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. any day of the week. Assistance lines across the country are experiencing a high volume of calls as the deadline to sign up for coverage that begins in January 1 is just days away. Another option is to enter your ZIP code on the “get help” page and find a so-called navigator in your area who can help you out in person.

December 23 is the deadline to sign up for coverage through either exchange if you want insurance to kick in on January 1. Originally, consumers were also required to pay their first premium by December 31, but the federal government announced today that insurance companies have voluntarily moved that date to January 10. That payment is made directly to the insurance company, not to the exchange.

According to recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 67,936 applications for coverage under “Obamacare” have been submitted in Illinois so far. Those applications represent 124,252 individual people. The bulk of those individuals, almost 74,0000, are eligible for Medicaid. Almost 29,000 are eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance. The state’s exchange, which is operated as part of a partnership with the federal government, has had more than 595,000 visits since it went online on October 1. Both the state and federal websites have been plagued with technical issues, but officials say that the problems are improving.


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