CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Thursday that the second year of open healthcare enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins today. The announcement comes as Illinois plans to build on the program’s successful first year in which more than 700,000 people across the state gained access to health coverage. The second open enrollment period is a three-month window running from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare.
“In just one year more than 700,000 people across Illinois are receiving healthcare thanks to the Affordable Care Act,” Quinn said. “While we’ve made tremendous progress, access to healthcare is a fundamental right and we won’t stop until everyone has the proper care they deserve. In year two, we are pushing even harder to get everyone in Illinois covered and to make sure no one is left out.”
Since the program started and working in partnership with the state, Cook County has enrolled more than 100,000 county residents in its own version of the expanded Medicaid program run by the Cook County Health and Hospital System.
“The Affordable Care Act is the most transformative piece of legislation in this country in decades,” Preckwinkle said. “Here in Cook County, we are responsible for the third largest public health system in the nation. Before the ACA, our health care system was a safety net for the uninsured and underinsured. Now, for the first time in the history of our health care system, we have more insured patients than uninsured.”
The launch of Get Covered Illinois’ (GCI) second year of open enrollment took place at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (PSMEMC) in Chicago and included dozens of trained Navigators who are prepared to assist people in finding a plan that meets their needs.
“Presence Health commends Governor Quinn and Cook County Board President Preckwinkle on efforts to expand access to coverage for uninsured residents in Illinois – particularly in some of the state’s most vulnerable communities,” Regional President and CEO of PSMEMC Martin Judd said. “In doing so, Presence Health is committed to supporting these efforts by holding a series of open enrollment events at our hospitals in the Chicago metro area and across the state.”
To date, about 500,000 people statewide have enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program under the ACA which is more than double the state’s initial projections.
Coupled with the 217,000 who enrolled in private health plans through the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, approximately 717,000 people have enrolled in healthcare as a result of the state’s aggressive enrollment efforts. The state’s Marketplace enrollment during the initial six-month enrollment period exceeded the federally-established goal of 143,000 Marketplace enrollees by 52 percent.
Uninsured residents must enroll in a plan by Dec. 15 to gain coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015. Those who selected a plan in Year One through the Marketplace must choose a plan by Dec. 15 to avoid being automatically re-enrolled in their 2014 plan and to ensure they have coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015. All 2014 Marketplace coverage will end Dec. 31, 2014, regardless of when coverage started.
To assist residents looking to enroll or re-enroll in health coverage, GCI has established a network of hundreds of bilingual Navigators around the state to provide free assistance in-person and by phone. Navigators are trained to help residents understand and review their healthcare options, determine if they qualify for financial assistance based on their income, and walk them through the enrollment process step-by-step.
Residents who enrolled last year are encouraged to take advantage of free, in-person assistance during open enrollment to review new health coverage options and determine if financial help is available before opting to renew their current plan.
The Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) recently announced the number of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) offered under the ACA has more than doubled from 165 plans offered in 2014 to more than 400 plans being offered in 2015.
GCI is kicking off open enrollment today by hosting a Health and Wellness Expo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr., in Chicago. Attendees can take part in free health screenings with a medical professional, as well as in-person guidance on understanding health insurance options and enrolling in coverage.
“In Year One, we learned that many people waited until the final days to enroll in coverage. We want to ensure people are able to sign up early and get the insurance they need instead of waiting until the last minute,” GCI Executive Director Jennifer Koehler said. “Residents can call (866) 311-1119 to schedule a free, in-person meeting at convenient time and nearby location to help ensure they get a plan that best meets their needs and budget.”
More information about open enrollment events around the state can be found by visiting GetCoveredIllinois. gov/events/. For additional information on healthcare options, call (866) 311-1119 or visit GetCoveredIllinois.gov.