Residents urged to get Obamacare insurance as deadline nears
With just days left to enroll for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, local, state and federal officials are encouraging residents to take advantage of the program.
Anyone who doesn't have health insurance through an employer, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program or another source has until the end of the day Sunday to enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov.
On Friday, Reps. Bill Foster and Sean Casten attended an event in Wheaton reminding the public about the looming deadline.
"Insurance works when everybody participates," said Casten, a Downers Grove Democrat. "If you're healthy right now, if you're young, if you're thinking, 'I don't need it,' it takes one accident, one surprise. We all get sick at some point. Get the coverage now so you don't need it later."
Foster, who had the card he used when he voted for the Affordable Care Act, says the law "works well" in states that are committed to it, including Illinois.
"We've seen across the country millions of people get health care coverage they never had before," the Naperville Democrat said. "We see things like mental health coverage provided for the first time."
But he said residents in Illinois and across the country only get the full benefit if everyone who is eligible participates in the program.
"And that is why this Sunday's deadline is so important," Foster said.
The DuPage County Health Department, which provides free assistance to residents wanting to enroll, has already helped about 340 families, which is slightly more than last year.
"We recognize health insurance is complicated," said Adam Forker, the department's director of client access. He said enrolling and choosing a plan can be intimidating.
"Our staff recognizes this and are committed to supporting our community members with this process," he said, "ensuring that they obtain the highest quality, most affordable coverage available to them."
Brian Gorman, director of outreach and education with Get Covered Illinois, spoke about the benefits of enrolling in a plan through healthcare.gov. He said the marketplace is the only place you can be guaranteed that all of your essential health benefits are covered.
"There are a number of plans that have been deemed compliant with the Affordable Care Act," Gorman said. "But the only place to guarantee that you actually have the essential health benefits -- and those tax credits which will help you pay for them -- is through healthcare.gov."