The Health Care Law – What You Need to Know

Illinois’ Individual Insurance Exchanges Opened October 1st—Illinoisans Must Purchase Coverage by January 1, 2014 or Pay a Fine

Where Do I Go For Information?

  • If your employer currently offers health insurance, ask if they plan to continue providing insurance for employees and/or spouses.  Many companies are making changes to their current insurance or dropping coverage all together in light of the new requirements under the health care law.
    • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts “[s]ome 7 million people are expected to lose or drop their employment-based coverage” because of Obamacare.  Click here to learn more.

What You Need to Know About

News reports have documented serious and widespread technical problems with the website.  Consumer Reports recently warned individuals to proceed with caution when navigating the exchange website, especially while the site is experiencing problems.  Beyond the initial problems with the website’s so-called glitches, there are concerns about the accuracy of patient information when it reaches the insurance company, as well as misleading cost estimates for those browsing plans on the site.

If attempting to sign up through, individuals should thoroughly document their experience —take notes, print and save screen shots, note the date and time of phone calls to the help hotline as well as the names of any customer service representatives with whom you speak.  Taking common sense steps can help protect consumers from potential fraud, penalties and double billing issues  if and when the health care system is fully operational.  Consumers should track the errors they encounter throughout the process because of the looming threat of IRS fines for lack of enrollment. 

Have you attempted to sign up for  Were you successful?  Did you run into errors?  Are there changes that should be made to the site?  Tell me about it HERE. Please designate your message as “Health” in the drop down issue category and “” in Message Subject.

How do I protect myself from fraud?

  • The Obama Administration’s own independent watchdog has raised concerns about the security of your personal information that will be held in the health care law’s data hub.  Here’s what you can do to help protect your personal information:
  • Don’t sign anything you don’t understand, and get a second opinion from someone you trust.
  • Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know, especially over the phone. 
  • Be sure you are on an official websites, one in the .gov domain, and not a fake or mock site.
  • Regularly check your credit report and make sure there are no unexpected changes.
  • If you suspect fraud or a scam, immediately contact:
  • Remember to stay alert, go slow and ask questions.

What should I ask?

  • Am I purchasing insurance just to comply with the president’s health care law?

Under the law, uninsured individuals are required to either purchase insurance through the exchange, or pay a fine.  The relative costs and benefits of each option will vary by person and should be evaluated on an individual basis.  Click here to learn more.

  • Will my new plan under the health care law allow me to keep my current doctors?

Many private insurance companies are giving consumers fewer choices for doctors and hospitals as they seek to comply with the health care law’s mandates.  If you regularly see a specialist, they may not be included in your new plan. Review these issues carefully before making health insurance changes to avoid interruption in your medical care.  Click here to learn more. 

  • How much do I want to pay for insurance?
    • Should I pay a little upfront, but a lot when I use insurance?
    • Should I pay a lot upfront and pay less when I use insurance?

For many, the healthcare law will increase the upfront cost of insurance due to a series of newly required benefits defined as “minimum essential coverage.” In addition to increased upfront costs, you may also have to pay more when you see a doctor.  Different plans handle the size and timing of payments differently, so be sure to look for one that meets your needs.  Click here  to learn more. 

  • Do I plan on using insurance frequently?  Am I purchasing coverage for myself, or for other members of my family?

The health care law sets up four tiers of coverage available on the health insurance marketplace-- bronze, silver, gold and platinum.  Each level represents an increase in coverage as well as cost of care. Click here to learn more.

  • I’m currently covered under my spouse’s health plan; do I need to worry about the new law? 

In order to cut costs, some companies are dropping coverage for spouses of their employees.  Click here or here to learn more.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the Illinois health insurance marketplace, click here.

For a glossary of insurance terms, click here.

Why Are Many Reporting an Increase in Premiums and Out of Pocket Costs?

Illinois’ preliminary individual insurance rates were announced in September 2013.   For minimum coverage plans, rates are up to 150 percent higher than they were prior to the health care law’s implementation.

  • On September 24, 2013 Governor Quinn announced “Illinois’ rates are lower than was predicted by HHS…” The cheapest plan available is “120 Per Month for a 25-year-old in Chicago.” (“Governor Quinn Announces Health Plan Rates are 25 Percent Below HHS Estimates,” Governor’s Office Press Release, September 24, 2013)
  • Before October 1st, a healthy 25 year old male could purchase a plan for as little as $49. (

In May of this year, the Illinois Department of Insurance said they expected 16 carriers to offer 260 plans. Instead, Illinois has only managed to enlist eight companies offering 34 plans. (“Fewer health applicants than expected in Illinois,” Associated Press, May 2, 2013)