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Illinois Residents Get Help Choosing Health Insurance

Get Covered Illinois

Some Illinois consumers are paying too much for health insurance plans that don't fit their needs. That's why The Project of the Quad Cities is helping residents, who receive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, navigate the health insurance Marketplace. 

Spokeswoman Kendra Smith says Open Enrollment began this week, for health insurance coverage that's effective in January. And the Marketplace changes every year, which is why The Project has counselors-- or "navigators"-- on call to answer questions. 

She says many people new to the Marketplace are not "health insurance literate." And others need help making sure their current plan is up-to-date. 
This year, Smith says some companies have discontinued their most expensive plans because of low enrollment. And the penalty for not having health insurance is now more expensive. Last year, the penalty was about $395, or 2% of yearly income. This year, it's $695, or 2.5% of income. 

Some major health plans are also changing. The Associated Press reports the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, discontinued a plan that covered every hospital in the state last year. 

About 297,000 Illinois residents receive coverage through HealthCare.gov. To have health insurance coverage that's effective on January 1, people must sign up by December 15. 

The Project of the Quad Cities is one of ten organizations to receive the Get Covered Illinois Grant, to provide in-person counseling for the Marketplace. Last year, the organization helped 800 people find coverage.