Today, more Americans have health insurance than ever before — under the Affordable Care Act, more than 17.6 million people have gained coverage, uninsured rates have plummeted, and millions more families have the security of knowing that they won’t go broke just because somebody got sick.
At the same time, we’ve seen exceptionally slow growth in health care costs as well as encouraging improvements in quality of care for patients.All of that is good news.
But there are still millions of people who lack this security — and many of them live in just a small number of communities across the country, including here in Chicago.
So I have a challenge for you, Chicago.
Open enrollment season for plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace just began, and we’re launching the Healthy Communities Challenge to rally folks to get covered in 20 communities with the greatest potential for impact.And if Chicago signs up the highest percentage of your neighbors who aren’t covered this year, I’ll come visit to tell the whole country about all of your success.
So maybe you’re a local official, a pastor or a sports hero who can spread the word.Maybe you’ve got a cousin or an uncle who’s been uninsured for far too long.Or, maybe you’re between jobs and don’t think that affordable coverage is an option for you.No matter who you are, everybody can get covered or help their neighbors do so.
You can start by telling folks about how affordable this coverage can be. In Illinois, more than 6 in 10 people can get covered for $100 or less a month, and more than 5 in 10 can get covered for $75 or less a month.For a lot of folks, that’s less than their cell phone or cable bill.And last year, consumers in Illinois saved an average of $212 a month thanks to tax credits for Marketplace coverage.
You can tell folks how easy it is to sign up.Getting covered used to mean filling out endless pages of forms — and sometimes even a medical exam.But today, GetCovered Illinois makes the process fast and simple — you can shop around, compare plans and choose the one that works for you and your family.
You can tell folks that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of a preexisting condition — and that preventive care like checkups and mammograms are now covered for free.
And most importantly, you should tell folks to go to GetCovered.Illinois.gov to sign up. Or, they can call 1-866-311-1119 for assistance. And in many cities, local events or assistance are available to help guide you and your neighbors through the process.
Open enrollment is already underway, and if you sign up by December 15, you’ll have coverage on New Year’s Day. But no matter what, you should sign up by January 31 to get coverage next year.
So I hope everyone in Chicago will get their families and their neighbors involved.That’s what the Healthy Communities Challenge is all about — working together, block by block, community by community, to help each other and this country get ahead.So good luck — maybe I’ll see you in Chicago next year.