Health Alliance members will be allowed to keep coverage for a year

URBANA — Health Alliance Medical Plans has been preparing for the possibility that the Illinois Department of Insurance would follow President Barack Obama's recommendation on canceled policies and was glad to hear the news, said company spokeswoman Jane Hayes.

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration announced on Friday that Illinois will allow the one-year extension of existing health insurance plans proposed by Obama.

Health Alliance had a lot of unhappy members whose policies were canceled for next year because their current policies don't meet new Affordable Care Act standards, Hayes said, and now those members will have the option of keeping their current policies for another year.

"We're going to be working very fast to get some information out to them," she said.

The choice to keep current coverage for another year will be available to Health Alliance members whether they've already enrolled in a new Affordable Care Act-compliant plan or not, Hayes said.

"We'll allow them to go back," she added.

In a recent interview, Health Alliance CEO Jeff Ingrum said the company has about 19,500 members on individual plans, and he believes most of those people would like to keep the plans they have.

Quinn's announcement sets Illinois apart from some other states led by Democrats. Those states rejected the president's proposal, saying it could leave many consumers with substandard coverage.

Obama announced last week he wants insurers to have the option to renew plans that would otherwise be canceled because they fall short of requirements in the nation's health law.

The proposal was meant to help the president regain credibility after his frequent promise that Americans who liked their plans could keep them.

At least 4 million Americans received cancellations notices — including about 185,000 in Illinois.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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