At Innovation Illinois, we think the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) is the best idea since – well, since Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other progressive state and federal programs that are helping American men and women get access to decent healthcare and live longer, healthier lives.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than half a million more people in Illinois now have healthcare coverage. That’s in addition to the 125,000 young adults aged 18-26 who are getting coverage under their parents’ health plans, the 2.284 million Illinoisans who now have access to expanded mental health and substance abuse services, and the 5.636 million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions who can no longer be denied coverage or charged higher premiums.
Under the ACA, women in Illinois and throughout our nation can now access a full range of preventive services, with no out-of- pocket costs. That includes:
- Breast cancer screening
- Comprehensive pregnancy and postpartum care, including breastfeeding support
- Pap smears and cervical cancer screening and prevention
- Contraception and birth control counseling
- Annual “well-woman” checkups
- Screening and counseling for domestic violence
The Affordable Care Act also is expanding the options in Illinois’ health insurance market. In June 2014, the Illinois Department of Insurance reported that 10 insurance carriers submitted a total of 504 health plans to the State for approval and inclusion in Illinois’ healthcare marketplace in 2015. That marks a substantial increase over the previous year, when eight insurance carriers offered just 165 plans.
That’s all great news, and we’re delighted that our nation has come so far in this effort to make sure that every American has access to high-quality, affordable healthcare.
But the job is far from done. In January 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that there were about 1.8 million people in Illinois who did not have healthcare coverage. That means that, even after the initial success of the Affordable Care Act, there are still hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans in need of basic health coverage. So we need to work hard to reach out to those people and let them know how they can get access to affordable healthcare.
We also need to stay vigilant against any efforts to limit Illinois women’s access to the full range of reproductive healthcare services, including abortion, and that would interfere with a woman’s right to make her own personal, private decisions about her health and medical care.
To learn more about the ways that the Affordable Care Act is helping people in Illinois, you can visit these websites:
- “How will the uninsured in Illinois fare under ACA,” January 2014, KFF, http://kff.org/health-reform/fact-sheet/state-profiles-uninsured-under-aca-illinois/
- “Health Care Reform in Illinois: What It Means For You,” State of Illinois
- “Illinois Passes the Half Million Mark for Health Coverage Under the ACA,” May 2014, GetCoveredIllinois
- “See the Benefits of the Affordable Care Act in Your State,” The White House
- “Insurer Interest in Offering Health Coverage in Illinois Rises,” June 2014, Insurance Journal