Group reminds that enrollment nears for Affordable Care Act

CHAMPAIGN — More than 1.7 million uninsured Illinois residents are expected to be eligible for financial help with insurance coverage next year, either through Medicaid or the new state health marketplace, according to a report released Thursday by Families USA.

But with just over three weeks to go until open enrollment begins Oct. 1, people who can benefit from the assistance need to know about it, said the organization's Executive Director Ron Pollack.

"It is our hope that the vast majority of people in Illinois who can benefit from the Affordable Care Act learn about it," he said.

Of 1,739,000 people in Illinois who can receive financial help for health insurance, 782,000 of them are estimated to be eligible for coverage through the state's newly expanded Medicaid program and about 957,000 will be in line for tax subsidies to pay for coverage through the marketplace, Pollack said.

A major part of health care reform, the marketplace will offer an online entry point for the uninsured to select an insurance plan, apply for tax subsidies or apply for the Medicaid program.

Subsidies will vary according to need.

"Those people who need the most help will receive the most help," Pollack said.

Some other points he said people need to know:

Some 5.6 million people in Illinois have pre-existing health conditions, but they can have peace of mind come next year, Pollack said. The Affordable Care Act already protects children from being turned down for coverage due to a pre-existing condition, and come Jan. 1, adults will have the same protection.

He also said 41 percent of Illinois' uninsured residents are young adults between ages 18 and 34 and they stand to benefit from the ability to gain subsidized coverage.

Already provided through provisions of the Affordable Care Act in Illinois, according to Families USA:

— About 125,000 young adults have gained health coverage by staying on their parents' policies until age 26.

— 178,581 Illinois residents received rebates totaling about $6.1 million from their insurance companies last year because their companies failed to spend the required minimum 80-85 percent of their premium dollars on health care.

— More than 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries got at least one free preventive service last year.

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