President Preckwinkle, Leading Health Advocates Urge Cook County Residents To Sign Up For Health Insurance Before Friday’s ACA Deadline

December 14, 2017

Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was joined by leading health care advocates to encourage Cook County residents to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The enrollment deadline is tomorrow, Friday, December 15.

The president was joined at the Komed Holman Heath Center on Chicago’s south side by leaders from Get Covered Illinois, the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, EverThrive Illinois and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. 

These advocates discussed why the Affordable Care Act is essential to public health and how residents can access the resources they need to ensure that they have coverage for 2018.

Because of actions taken by Washington, D.C. politicians, the enrollment window for 2018 has been shrunk significantly and resources were slashed for on-the-ground outreach organizations who help “navigate” prospective enrollees through the marketplace. The non-profit and local governmental partners who spoke at Thursday’s event have been instrumental in making sure that despite these challenges, health care enrollment in Illinois does not decline. 

Residents who still need insurance for 2018 can visit https://healthcare.gov or https://getcoveredillinois.gov or call (866) 311-1119 for more information. Additionally, Cook County Health and Hospitals System has an insurance information helpline for Cook County residents: (313) 864-2224.

“The Trump administration has cynically tried to decrease Affordable Care Act enrollment by intentionally creating confusion for Americans eligible for insurance. They have done this by starving public service campaigns of the funds they need to advertise enrollment and by drastically reducing the timeframe in which Americans can enroll,” President Preckwinkle said. “We are in the home stretch. The deadline for ACA enrollment is tomorrow, and these amazing people are at the ready to help Cook County residents navigate their way through the insurance marketplace.”

“Because of the hard work of these navigators in Illinois, the uninsured rate is the lowest it’s ever been. More importantly, navigators in Illinois are helping to get Illinois residents the health care they need like doctor’s visits, prescription drugs and preventive care,” said Stephani Becker, senior policy specialist for health at the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law. “Now, more people are protecting themselves and their families from medical debt which happened so frequently before the Affordable Care Act. And more people have peace of mind that if an accident or injury occurs, they don’t have to worry about how to pay for their healthcare.”

“The ACA impacts every person in Chicago in some way, regardless of where they receive health coverage,” said Wendy DuBoe, president and CEO of the United Way of Metro Chicago. “A lack of healthcare access for some citizens has a substantial impact on all of us. Stronger, healthier individuals equal stronger families, which equals stronger communities.”

“Insurance is like a friend, you want to have it before you need it,” said Dr. Arnold Turner, Medical Director at Provident Hospital. “Access under the ACA allows an individual to make an appointment to see a primary care physician rather than wait until their chronic condition is so acute they require emergency or inpatient care.”

“In 2016, 12,000 people with HIV got health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, or one-third of people with HIV in the state. Marketplace plans provide people with HIV access to affordable HIV medications, and coverage to treat all health conditions they might have,” said John Peller, President and CEO of the AIDS Foundation Chicago.  “For people who are HIV-negative, marketplace plans cover PrEP, a daily pill that is up to 99% effective at preventing HIV when taken consistently and correctly. We urge everyone living with or vulnerable to HIV who needs health insurance to visit healthcare.gov to enroll in a plan today.”

“The ACA opened a pathway to high-quality affordable health insurance for millions of women,” said Kaylan Szafranski, manager of health care reform for EverThrive Illinois. “The ACA meets the unique health care needs of women by guaranteeing coverage for critical health services like maternity care, prescription drugs and chronic disease management. The law also provides no-cost coverage for preventive services like birth control, breastfeeding supplies and well-women visits. So it’s no surprise that more than 50 percent of all marketplace enrollees are women every single year."