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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Open enrollment for public, private health insurance begins soon

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Friday, September 22, 2023   

Open enrollment begins soon for most employer-sponsored health care coverage and benefits plans for the calendar year 2024.

In Illinois, there will be multiple options to choose from. Some are complex, and the process can be a little overwhelming. Experts say now is the time to research what each plan offers and if a choice fits a family's needs and budget.

Almost 8% of Illinois residents do not have health insurance, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of Employer and Individual for UnitedHealthcare, said a good place to start is to study up on health insurance terminology.

"Things like deductibles, copays, coinsurance premiums, etc.," Randall outlined. "Be familiar with what those terms are and what the costs associated with each one is, for the plans that you're offering and the plans that you're considering."

Randall advised Illinoisans to pay close attention to each policy's out-of-pocket costs and monitor changes which can happen within the plan each year. Just Plain Clear is an online health insurance glossary Randall recommends.

In 2021, almost 35% of people in Illinois were covered by public health insurance plans funded by governments at the federal, state or local level.

About 18% of Illinoisans are 65 or older, which makes them eligible for Medicare, government-sponsored health insurance. But it does not cover everything, so most people also buy a supplemental policy, and a prescription drug plan. The Medicare annual enrollment period is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, when people can get new coverage or change what they have had.

Randall added UnitedHealthcare has also compiled an online Medicare guide to help people navigate those plans.

"Medicare beneficiaries want to make sure they're understanding and learning the difference between original Medicare -- Medicare Parts 'A' and 'B' -- and Medicare Advantage, Medicare Parts 'C' and 'D' for prescription drugs," Randall explained.

Residents who do not have insurance through their employer and are not eligible for Medicare can obtain coverage online through the federal marketplace HealthCare.gov.

Disclosure: UnitedHealthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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