CARBONDALE (AP) — Illinois Department of Insurance officials are quickly working to enroll residents through the health care marketplace in half the amount of time as last year.
Open enrollment began Nov. 1 and will be six weeks long, unlike the 12 weeks last year.
Insurance department officials are adding 230 extra phone hours and touring 102 counties to improve the marketplace shopping experience, the Southern Illinoisan reported. Licensed health support agents will be available to help enroll customers over the phone from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, said Jennifer Hammer, director of the Illinois Department of insurance.
Illinois is also partnering with GoHealth to show customers available plan offerings both on and off the Affordable Care Act exchange.
The state health insurance marketplace website, getcovered.illinois.gov, has been overhauled to provide new information for consumers to compare plans on and off the exchange. The website previously hadn't included information about all plans or the ability to enroll in them and talk to licensed brokers.
The Illinois Department of Insurance used part of a $1 million state appropriation to overhaul the website and its services, Hammer said.
President Donald Trump administration's recent elimination of cost sharing will affect premiums, but premiums will not be rising as much as they have in the past, Hammer said.
"No action is the worst action," Hammer said, adding that customers should be aware of how their plans might change.
There is no guarantee that the federal government will be lenient toward late-comers who try to enroll after the deadline, Hammer said. She said customers enrolling by Dec. 15 will avoid penalties or fees.
"Previously, if someone in the process of enrollment and it was a few minutes after (the deadline), the feds extended somewhat, but that's up to the feds," Hammer said.
This year more than 350,000 Illinois residents enrolled in health insurance coverage through the exchange.