Insurance market opens in Illinois, users report site delays - KMSP-TV

Insurance market opens in Illinois, users report site delays

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Governor Quinn called the opening of Illinois's new health insurance exchange a victory for the poor and uninsured, but those who tried to log onto the new "ObamaCare" website found long waits at times.

Officials counted more than 71,000 visitors to the state's health insurance marketplace website, GetCoveredIllinois.gov. That seemed low compared to the 2.4 million unique visitors that federal officials said they had counted across the country by mid-afternoon. In D.C. and Chicago, there were glitches that in some cases blocked consumers from setting up accounts.

"With any new program, there will be glitches and bumps along the way," Quinn said of Tuesday's marketplace launch.

That was certainly the experience of health care consumers from Chicago to far southern Illinois as they tried to use the new insurance exchange websites created by the Affordable Care Act. Still, they have until Dec. 15th to sign up for an insurance policy that would cover them beginning Jan. 1st -- the first day of comprehensive health care under the President's new plan.

Critics complain the cost of it all could cause the federal budget deficit to soar. Supporters counter that the plan's emphasis on preventive care could eventually bring medical costs under control, saving many of the 35,000 Illinoisans killed by cardiovascular disease each year.

"When it comes to heart attacks and strokes, we actually know an awful lot about how to prevent those diseases," cardiologist Dr. Donald Lloyd Jones says. "And, in fact, some people estimate we could prevent up to 90% of the heart attacks that occur, because we know what causes them. It's things like cholesterol, and blood pressure, and diabetes and smoking status.

Opponents of "ObamaCare" focused on the downside, including what they said was the complicated new law's negative impact on workers. A study by the conservative Illinois Policy Institute found employers here had cut the equivalent of 66,000 full-time jobs, much of it in an effort to keep their total full-time work force below 50. That's the point at which they'd have to pay for "ObamaCare's" employer mandate.

Governor Quinn urged Illinois's 1 million uninsured to do their homework.

Illinois is still declining to release a comprehensive listing of the deductibles, co-pays and other details of health insurance policies offered on the exchange, making it difficult to compare their cost to what's currently available in the private market. A federal official in Washington, D.C., though, indicated the feds may release that information "soon."

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