News Local/State

Retirees Have Option In United Healthcare


Two public meetings on Friday in Champaign about changes to Medicare Advantage plans attracted hundreds of state retirees, many of whom had to be turned away for lack of space.

Many of those who showed up to the Illinois Terminal Building were concerned about losing their regular doctors because Health Alliance has been rejected as one of the plans available next year to retirees. Joyce Hurley of Champaign said she was told she could not get into Friday afternoon’s meeting because there were too many people who came before her.

“I’m very angry about what’s happened,” Hurley said. “I worked for my benefits and now when I’m retired, I’m not in a position to plan for my future. I have to take what was given to me.”

Urbana’s Carle Hospital accepts Medicare Advantage plans through Health Alliance, which it owns.  It now said it will accept plans through United Healthcare, but a Carle spokeswoman said because United is not in the hospital’s provider network, its rates may be different.

State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) advises people not to put off enrollment in hopes that the Health Alliance plan will be restored.

“The options that the state has put forward are the options people will have in this enrollment period,” Frerichs said. “It is possible that in the future there will be another option available in a future enrollment period, but it is very important for people today to sign up today and not wait for that change to happen.”

The meetings in Champaign were held by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. Frerichs said he hopes to set up another forum next week in a larger venue.

The deadline for Medicare Advantage enrollment is Dec. 13.