Get Covered Illinois to hire ACA counselors with federal grant funds

CHICAGO — Get Covered Illinois will distribute about $5 million in federal grants to 10 community groups to hire counselors to help consumers buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The Illinois Department of Insurance says the 150 counselors hired with the funds compare to the 400 the organization funded last year, when it had $25.8 million to hire specialists.

The Chicago Tribune reports the reduced number of enrollment specialists concern health care advocates because consumers have struggled to pick a health plan among the many choices. The counselors also help people find out whether they qualify for tax subsidies.

Under the health law’s expansion of coverage, more than 625,000 Illinois residents have gained insurance through Medicaid and another 350,000 Illinoisans bought private insurance on the subsidized marketplace.