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Health-care workers need to explain insurance overhaul, Sebelius says

U.S. Health Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks about implementatiAffordable Care Act Chicago Cultural Center 78 E. WashingtSt.  |

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talks about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. | Brian Jackson~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 15, 2013 2:44AM

With key parts of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul set to take effect this year, the president’s health chief was in town Thursday, urging those in the medical field to let the public know what’s coming.

“Just because Americans now have the ability to get affordable health insurance, it doesn’t mean they’ll actually receive it,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, addressing health-care workers at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Sebelius said it will be critical for health-care workers in communities — “the most trusted health-care messengers” — to spread the word among people who may have other day-to-day concerns, like finding a job.

What’s coming nationwide are government-run health insurance “marketplaces,” where the uninsured can buy “affordable” packages beginning Oct. 1.

Sebelius said insurance companies will have to operate under a “whole new set of rules.”

“No one ever again in America will be kicked out, locked out or priced out of the market place because of a pre-existing condition,” Sebelius said to applause.

She said packages will also include comprehensive mental health care and substance abuse coverage, “which now is very limited and often very spotty.”

“For the first time, companies will have to compete with each other, not who can cherry-pick the market,” Sebelius said.

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