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July 12, 2000

Help Available For Medicare Beneficiaries Losing HMO Coverage

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today urged Illinois citizens who are losing their Medicare HMO coverage to contact the Illinois Department of Insurance Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) for up-to-date information and assistance.

"SHIP staff members and counselors are standing by to help Medicare beneficiaries make the transition to another health insurance plan as easy as possible," Ryan said. "People can contact SHIP toll-free at 1-800-548-9034 for direct assistance or referral to one of the 170 free counseling offices around the state."

SHIP is a free, statewide insurance counseling program for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. Over 700 trained volunteers are available to answer questions and resolve problems with Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance and long term care insurance. SHIP is sponsored by the Department of Insurance in cooperation with community organizations.

Over 17,500 Illinoisans will be affected by the decision of four HMOs to not renew their contracts for Medicare coverage with the federal Health Care Financing Administration.

The Governor stressed that most beneficiaries will have until December 31 to make a health insurance change and should not panic. Only those beneficiaries who enrolled in an HMO for the first time and have been in that HMO for less than 12 months may need to make a health insurance decision prior to December 31.

"Regardless of enrollment date, all beneficiaries are entitled to certain Medicare supplement guarantees if they choose to return to a traditional Medicare plan or they can enroll in another HMO if one is available in their area," Ryan said.

Following is a list of the HMOs leaving the Medicare market in Illinois:

HMO Affected Counties # Insured
Aetna U. S. Healthcare Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will 7100
Health Alliance Cass, Christian, Knox, Logan, Macoupin,
Marshall, Montgomery, Morgan, Peoria,
Sangamon, Stark and Tazewell
Humana Health PlanKankakee, Lake and Will 7500
United Health Care
of the Midwest
Monroe and St. Clair no number available

A list of currently available Medicare HMOs by service area, as well as general information on termination of HMO coverage, is available on the Department of Insurance website at www.state.il.us/ins under "Senior Health Insurance Information."


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