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Navigators help residents understand Affordable Care Act

An audience listens speakers during an Enroll Lake County! presentatiNovember about Affordable Care Act. | Jim Newton/Sun-Times Media

An audience listens to speakers during an Enroll Lake County! presentation in November about the Affordable Care Act. | Jim Newton/Sun-Times Media

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How to get help with the Affordable Care act

A public informational session on what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 23, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Bradbury Room of the Waukegan Public Library, 128 N. County St., Waukegan.

For more information on the session, call the library at (847) 623-2041.

The Lake County Health Department has help available in English and Spanish for those who need assistance enrolling in an insurance program under the Affordable Health Care Act at clinics and facilities across the county.

For information or to schedule an appointment, call the Health Department at (847) 377-4999.

For the latest local enrollment information online, visit

Help and information also is available at:

NiCasa: (847) 244-443

Lake County Center for Independent Living, Mundelein: (847) 949-4440

Community Resource for Education and Wellness, Zion: (847) 872-2830

Rosalind Franklin Health System, North Chicago: (847) 473-4357

YWCA, Gurnee: (847) 662-4247

Family Service, Highland Park: (847) 432-4981

Antioch Area Healthcare Accessibility Alliance: (847) 395-3359

Catholic Charities Senior Services, Round Lake: (847) 546-5733

A Safe Place, Zion: (847) 249-0471

Moraine Township: (847) 432-3240

Vista Medical Center West, Waukegan: (847) 360-2860

Vista Medical Center East, Waukegan: (847) 360-4023

By the numbers

County residents assisted so far according to the Health Department, with numbers listed reported through most of October:

Resident contacts: 9,792

Educated individuals: 3,769

Individuals assisted: 1,351

Individuals enrolled: 410

Individuals counseled post-enrollment: 151

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Updated: January 14, 2014 2:28PM

For those who want coverage by Jan. 1, the clock is ticking to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Local officials are stressing that it is time for those who need insurance under the federal act to enroll and that there is plenty of help available throughout Lake County in person, by phone and online.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, was designated as Enroll Lake County! Day, with representatives of several partners involved in the Enroll Lake County! initiative speaking at a public information session at the Waukegan Public Library.

The message was uniform — despite the bad press and concerns over enrollment website glitches, the federal program still offers affordable and potentially life-saving insurance coverage to the uninsured, the unemployed, the self-employed and those employed without benefits.

Jeanne Ang, director of primary care services with the Lake County Health Department, says she has seen firsthand the devastating consequences that can hit those living without insurance.

“We’ve had people with serious illness, including cancer, where they have chosen not to have treatment because they could not afford it. People have died,” Ang said. “We’re creating history here. We’ll be able to tell our children and our grandchildren that in 2013, we were agents of change.”

One of the most important things for residents to understand is that certified, trained “navigators” are available throughout the county to help guide people through the online enrollment system, which can be troublesome due to problems with the federal site.

Three navigators based at Waukegan library have already enrolled 102 people and have assisted more than 340 residents around the county, according to Elizabeth Stearns, the library’s assistant director of Community Services.

“We have everything residents need to get enrolled,” she said, noting there are currently at least 71,000 uninsured adults in Lake County.

Moraine Township Supervisor Anne Flanigan Bassi has herself become a certified navigator and has made the township offices a place where people can call and make appointments to go in for assistance with getting enrolled.

Bassi said it takes 40 to 50 hours of training to become a certified navigator and that the navigators follow strict confidentiality procedures. She warned that scam artists may pose as insurance enrollment workers and pose threats such as identity theft.

“If someone offers to help you or your neighbor with this daunting system, ask for their certification,” she said.

Bassi said the coverage costs are primarily based on age, location and smoking.

“Smoking you can control and I urge you to control that,” she said. “If you don’t smoke, you are going to get cheaper enrollment.”

Officials also said that if people want to keep particular doctors or programs, they should carefully check policies before enrollment to ensure they are in-program. The website allows enrollees to compare different policies side by side in detail.

The cost of enrollment also depends on the percentage of insurance costs the coverage provides and the percentage covered by the user, with four basic options varying from 60 percent insurance company and 40 percent consumer to 90 percent insurance company and 10 percent consumer.

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