Final preps in place for health insurance marketplace

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. - With a government shutdown looming, the Affordable Care Act is now a political football. Regardless of party affiliation or political belief, portions of the law go into effect Tuesday.

The most obvious one is the health insurance marketplace.

We've heard a lot about Kentucky's marketplace, known as Kynect. The state of Illinois says theirs will be ready to go on Tuesday, as well.

"Get Covered Illinois" is the name of the program, and health agencies are familiar with it and ready for questions.

But some of them may not be able to help right away.

From inside her office at Shawnee Health Service, Nancy Muzzarelli listens and takes notes.

"The delays have been a bit frustrating," she said.

One day before "Get Covered Illinois" goes live, she's still in training. She spent Monday afternoon going through a web seminar on the new insurance requirements.

"We really expected the online training to begin in late July, and it didn't begin until at least mid-September," she said.

Muzzarelli said Shawnee Health won't help anyone survey their insurance options until certificates of completion are in hand. That means the agency will start setting appointments on Tuesday for mid-October.

"We think the first month will be slow. We think the second month will be very busy," said Patsy Jensen, Executive Director of Shawnee Health Service.

Jensen said the coming weeks will be the biggest test. The state of Illinois hasn't revealed all the rates in the marketplace, but she said ones in southern Illinois are the most expensive.

"We're in a rural area," she said.

Though state officials tout the ease of browsing plans on the web, Jensen said that may prove difficult for some without internet.

"We will become a facility where they can have their plans, even if they already know what plan they want, at least uploaded and submitted electronically," she said.

There was some concern a call center in Illinois may not be operational in time for the health insurance marketplace kick off. A spokesperson for the state told us it should be open.

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