COURTESY OF IHIM MEDIA

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today released numbers for the first four months of enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), showing that 88,602 Illinois residents have selected a private health care plan through the federal website since Oct. 1. Following major improvements to the federal website, enrollments increased significantly since December.

In addition, more than 168,000 Illinois residents have enrolled in Medicaid under the ACA, bringing the total who have gained access to health coverage in the state to more than 256,000

“These numbers show we are making good progress but we still have much to accomplish in the next 47 days,” Jennifer Koehler, executive director of Get Covered Illinois (GCI) said. “We are in the midst of a crucial push to enroll as many residents as possible for health coverage. We know that for many people it requires multiple layers of exposure to information, including word-of-mouth and street-level contact with trusted community partners. We are working closely with hundreds of community partners across Illinois to ensure that everyone who needs health coverage obtains this quality, affordable insurance.” 

The HHS enrollment report also indicates that 203,922 Illinois residents have been determined to be eligible to enroll in a Marketplace plan, but about 115,000 have yet to enroll in a health coverage plan. 

The next key enrollment deadline is coming up this week; Feb.15 is the last date that consumers can apply for coverage that begins on March 1. The full enrollment period for the Marketplace lasts six months and runs throughMarch 31.

The HHS report also revealed that in Illinois: 

  • 27,491 Illinois residents selected a Marketplace plan in January
  • 75 percent of Marketplace customers were eligible for financial assistance
  • 25 percent of those enrolled are 18-34, up 2 percentage points from the December report
  • 54 percent purchased a Silver Plan
  • 54 percent of customers are women

GCI has launched a marketing campaign aimed at younger adults. GCI also is running statewide advertising and a series of outreach initiatives and events designed to “make health coverage personal” to reach uninsured residents where they live, work and play in Illinois. The ad campaign features people facing real-life health issues, such as a father who needs a physical, a mom who needs to take her sick child to a doctor, a trained Navigator walking an enrollee through the process step by step, and a young girl who needs glasses so she can see the blackboard better in the classroom. 

“By tapping into emotional concerns and connections we all have to health care and its effect on ourselves, families and friends, we hope to further drive enrollment as we approach the March 31 deadline,” Koehler said. “All of our events and outreach programs are directed at connecting with people personally, so they take the necessary initiative to enroll and help those who need health coverage.”

In addition to the statewide ad push, GCI and its more than 250 community partners are planning nearly 200 special events across the state in the coming weeks to connect its more than 1,500 trained Navigators to people who need to sign up for coverage. This outreach includes more than 60 neighborhood churches that are inviting Navigators to sign up their members. GCI will also soon be releasing a series of testimonials videos of residents – young and older – who have signed up for affordable, comprehensive health coverage through the Marketplace. 

Illinois officials said traffic on the GetCoveredIllinois.gov website has increased steadily, with more than 965,000 website visits since Oct. 1 and more than 419,000 users of the screening tool that leads users either to the federal website or the state’s new Medicaid eligibility site, ABE.illinois.gov (Application for Benefits Eligibility). 

GCI is urging health care consumers to take advantage of the assistance that is being offered via the web, over the phone and in person through hundreds of community partners across the state:

  • Visit our website at www.GetCoveredIllinois.gov (which includes a Spanish-language version).
  • Call the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk at 866-311-1119. Operators are available each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  
  • Meet in person with a specially trained “Navigator” who can help you understand your options and even enroll you at one of the hundreds of partner sites across the state. There are more than 1,500 Navigators and they can be located by visiting the website and entering your zip code or through the Help Desk. 

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