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Healthcare Act info sessions to continue : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Healthcare Act info sessions to continue
Kendall Co. Health Department counselor assisting county residents

by Matt Schury

11/28/2013

The Kendall County Health Department will continue holding free informational sessions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Fridays at 10 a.m. at the County's Health Department building, 811 W John St., Yorkville, through Dec. 15.

Richard Larson, ACA counselor, says the sessions have been going well and the community outreach has also been successful.

"It is a good program. If you see the relief it brings to people when they realize they can get some form of assistance now. It really makes your day," he said.

The Health Department will assess how the meetings have gone and decide if they want to continue them into the New Year.

In the meantime Larson said they have averaged about five or six people per session with good attendance at the outreach programs as well. A recent meeting in Oswego drew 26 people.

He admits the federal health care website still isn't where it could be but said it is getting better.

"It's a little spotty but I did applications with three people last week and we started at the beginning and went all the way through," he said. "It has improved greatly from where it was."

Larson has helped about 10 people sign up in the office but a lot of people are signing up at home after talking with him about their needs. They can then follow up with him if they need further help.

"I think bad start aside-horrible start aside-it will get better. What's really wrong right now is essentially the delivery system," he said.

Larson tells people that they need to "cut through the clutter" of information they hear about the ACA.

"There's so much noise, there's so much generalization going on. I say, 'Pay attention to your own situation.' Everybody's situation is different," he said.

Larson says that during the sessions he first explains what the act did when it was first rolled out in 2010 and how it will continue next year. He also discusses how people can evaluate their own situation to decide if they should be signing up for Medicaid, which was expanded under the ACA, or if they should go to the government's market place. Larson stresses that he can't tell them what they should do but can assist them in making a decision.

He said the next step in outreach is visiting PADS sites in the county. He will do an enrollment night on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. during a PADS session at Trinity Methodist on Cannonball and Route 47 in Yorkville.

"Those are the people that you want to get," he said.

He explained that an applicant has to go through the whole process on the marketplace application before they get to the point where it can tell them if they're eligible for coverage.

Larson also recommends going to thehealthsherpa.com for more information. The Health Sherpa is nongovernmental site that provides fast comparisons on health care plans.

People looking for insurance want to know about plan design, he says, and what they should look for in their situation as well as how to evaluate plans.

"That's a big deal because there is some complexity there that people just typically are just not used to dealing with," he said.

The site has a "how to buy" button but Larson recommends not pressing it because it will take you to the website of the carrier offering the plan.

"Typically if you buy stuff from that website it is not from the marketplace and you're not getting a tax subsidy," he said.

Instead Larson suggests using The Health Sherpa as a place to get a quick idea of how much a health care plan might cost you.

On the federal site, healthcare.gov, you can fill out your application, get approved, it tells you your tax subsidy and you could click five different plans and get a comparison.

However, Larson adds that people need to figure out what they need and what is best for them.

He suggests those interested in buying insurance on the government's marketplace first determine a three to five point priority list of what is most important to them in purchasing insurance. The list should include things like how badly they want to stay with their provider as well as the premium and out of pocket costs they can afford.

"You can weed through the 55 plans out there for Kendall County a lot easier," he said.

Illinois has allowed unqualified plans to be renewed in 2014 but the insurers have to tell people what they are missing in not having a qualified plan.

He believes the move will help because it gives people more time. Larson said the decision was left up to the states and the Department of Insurance in Illinois has said they would allow it. However, the ultimate decision of allowing unqualified plans is up to individual insurance companies.

To schedule an appointment with Larson call 630-553-8345 or email kendallaca@co.kendall.il.us. The federal government's informational website is healthcare.gov. Residents of Illinois can also go to the state's website at getcoveredillinois.gov.




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