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Over 95,000 in Illinois sign up for Obamacare plans

Leticia Galvez helps enroll Maria Knoll in a Affordable Care Act insurance plan at the James R. Thompson Center on November 29, 2017. | Max Herman For the Sun-Times

Maria Knoll knew she’d need to sign up again for the Affordable Care Act, but she wasn’t expecting how intense the sign-up process would be.

Last year, her broker took care of it, but this year — faced with “vague” questions and fluctuating price quotas — the thought of signing up on her own unsettled her.

“It was very intimidating,” Knoll said. “They make it such a complex process that I think they want you to use a broker.”

Although some would agree the website is confusing, that hasn’t stopped over 95,000 Illinois residents from enrolling in an Obamacare health insurance plan this year according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

That’s a roughly 40 percent increase from 2016.

By this point in time last year, a little over 68,000 people had signed up.

Through the state’s services and beefed-up website, Knoll and others have been able to seek help when questions come up, meaning the enrollment process isn’t an impediment to receiving care.

The enrollment period was reduced this year, but Illinois has offered residents ways to sign up for care online. The state is also offering enrollment education and sign-up help at the Thompson Center primarily on weekdays and a rotating list of suburban locations to help people find the care they need.

At the Thompson Center on Wednesday, Leticia Galvez, with the Patient Innovation Center, helped sign up 11 more people. She said so far, those who come to the in-person help sessions are seeking answers to questions not readily found online.

Galvez said that she started receiving calls on Nov. 1 from people asking how to renew their plans and what to expect this enrollment cycle.

“For some it can be an intimidating process because it asks so many questions,” Galvez said. “With a person they can feel more guided and at the end of the day everyone just wants to make sure that they’re covered.”

Residents have until Dec. 15 to sign up for a plan.