BC-IL–Health Overhaul-Illinois Member Project-Advisory, IL

EDITORS:

NEWS DIRECTORS:

The AP-Illinois would like to invite you to participate in a timely, state-wide member collaboration focused on President Barack Obama’s troubled Affordable Care Act, to be published beginning this Sunday ahead of the act’s Jan. 1 start of health insurance coverage under the law’s new marketplace.

We are distributing material to members to help them develop localized stories for the project. If you are interested in participating and receiving the materials, or if you have any questions, please contact AP-Illinois News Editor Hugh Dellios at hdellios@ap.org or 312-781-0500.

The project will include two main stories prepared by the AP with photos, a sidebar and glances. They moved Hold for Release on Monday, Dec. 9 and are embargoed until Sunday, Dec. 15, and Monday, Dec. 16, or thereafter depending on your needs. The digest lines for the stories are included at the bottom of this advisory.

The project will have two parts.

The first part, to be published Sunday, Dec. 15, or thereafter, focuses on U.S. Census data provided by the AP showing the percentage of uninsured Illinoisans, county by county. It should serve as an indication of the potential level of demand for insurance coverage in each part of the state. We are distributing the database to anyone who requests it by email.

The second part, to be published Monday, Dec. 16, or thereafter, focuses on the differences in health insurance policy premiums, deductibles and overall plans available in the federal government’s new health care marketplace, based on information accessible on the government’s updated website. The second story is intended to help consumers understand the wider context of insurance plans they may choose if they seek to buy one under the new law. The AP is distributing a memo to assist members in accessing the government website to find useful information to use in their own stories, and a second database crafted for the AP that will allow you to compare and contrast different plans in your area, available to anyone who requests it by email.

The project is timely because consumers face a Dec. 23 deadline for choosing a plan if they want insurance coverage on Jan. 1, the first day of coverage for the new tax-subsidized insurance plans.

Thank you for your involvement. The AP-Illinois and its members have had success with these kinds of projects in the past, including our award-winning “Deadbeat Illinois” project in 2011. We hope this project is just as successful, and helps serve your needs.

DIGEST LINES:

HEALTH OVERHAUL-UNINSURED-HFR

ARTHUR, Ill. — In many ways, Douglas County resembles most of its neighbors in eastern Illinois: a patch of rich Midwest farmland with a small population and an economy that provides comfortable incomes and keeps unemployment relatively low. It stands out, however, as a county with the second highest percentage of Illinoisans without health insurance. And that, in turn, stems from the jet-black, horse-drawn Amish buggies that roll up and down the county’s roads and the Mexican workers who arrived in recent decades to make brooms. With the full launch of the nation’s new health care law just weeks away, millions of uninsured Americans are contemplating whether to sign up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s signature domestic initiative. Their numbers vary from one place to the next, even within the same state or region, as do the chances that advocates will succeed in bringing them into the ranks of the insured. Illinois falls in the middle of U.S. states for the number of uninsured residents, but in some counties, like Douglas, there are notable exceptions. By David Mercer. SENT: 900 words, photos, moved HFR on Dec. 9 to be published Sunday, Dec. 15 or thereafter. AP is providing a database on the number and rate of uninsured in all 102 Illinois counties, based on U.S. Census data, for the purpose of localizing the story.

With:

HEALTH OVERHAUL-UNINSURED GLANCE-HFR — A quick glance at the nation’s uninsured.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-STICKER SHOCK?-HFR

CHICAGO — The next big challenge for the nation’s health care law may be sticker shock, when consumers find they’re still paying high medical bills after buying low-cost insurance for the first time. With a Dec. 23 deadline looming for anyone who wants health insurance by Jan. 1, people may hurry to choose plans with cheap monthly payments on a new insurance marketplace. But they may be surprised, especially if they’ve never had coverage before, to find they’re still on the hook for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket “deductibles,” a standard part of most insurance policies. About 1.8 million Illinoisans are uninsured, about 14 percent of the total population, according to estimates based on Census data. By AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson. SENT: 870 words, photos, moved HFR on Dec. 9 to be published Monday, Dec. 16 or thereafter. AP will make materials available to help members determine the range of premiums and deductibles in Illinois, county by county, for the purpose of localizing the story.

With:

HEALTH OVERHAUL-OUT OF POCKET-HFR

CHICAGO — Are requirements of the nation’s new health care law driving up out-of-pocket costs for people buying their own insurance? In some cases, yes. But the law also eliminated some of the largest deductibles, or the amount a consumer pays for actual medical care before an insurance company begins paying. By AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson. SENT: 400 words.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-CONSUMER TIPS GLANCE-HFR

CHICAGO — Tips from experts on buying health insurance under President Barack Obama’s new health care law, in bullet-point format. SENT: 400 words.

The AP-Chicago

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