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Thousands of Illinois workers lose health insurance

Several large manufacturing companies in Illinois, including at least two steel mills, have fallen victim to the economic recession, leaving thousands of workers without health insurance.

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Nan Nases, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Insurance, says that because the companies have gone out of business and no longer exist, there is no COBRA plan to activate.

"This really doesn't fall under our jurisdiction, but we've been working to advise people about their [health insurance] options so they know they have some," she says. "It's really very difficult."

Nases says there are several programs that can provide assistance, particularly for children's medical coverage, including the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Initiated in 1997, CHIP is a federally funded program designed to assist the 7.1 million low-income American children who currently go without health insurance. CHIP aims to provide for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance. Read Children's Health Insurance Program.

For adults, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has an online interactive tool designed to answer questions about health insurance rights under federal law.

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