Get Covered Illinois reaches out to Hispanic community


[dropcap]S[/dropcap]igning up for health insurance for some may be intimidating, which may be the reason why some in the Hispanic community have not registered for coverage. During enrollment in 2013, many Spanish-speaking Illinois residents were weary to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act. During the first week of enrollment in 2013, a little under 500,000 people signed up for a health care plan and more than 3.7 million people visited the federal signup website In order to help Spanish-speaking residents, the government created, the Spanish version of the healthcare marketplace. But only 96,000 people enrolled through the site.

Currently, Illinois does not have its own health insurance exchange, but is instead run through the federal government. There have been plans and discussions at the state level to launch an Illinois site, but that is off the table for the time being. A committee for the Illinois House of Representatives recently passed a bill to give the green light to creating a health care exchange, but the House came to a deadlock and the bill died.

Although the state does not have its own exchange, Colleen Van Ham, president and CEO of United Health Care of Illinois, said that Illinois and Chicago residents have a number of options to choose from to get covered. Van Ham said that it is completely normal to be intimidated by the process, but that should not deter anyone from doing it.

“Our goal is to make it more affordable for people to purchase a plan so that part of the intimidation is minimized,” Van Ham said during a phone interview. “The second goal is to make it easier to understand…help people understand the costs.”

The United Health Care website contains several educational documents, such as an overview of what health insurance is, how it works and a health care cost estimator to assist residents in figuring out how much a plan will cost and other medical expenses. These resources are available in English and Spanish.

There have been some hiccups along the way for the federal health care sign up, but Van Ham said it has been a relatively smooth process for sign up for Illinois, although numbers for those who have signed up have not been released.

How do I get health insurance?

If you live in Illinois, you can answer a few questions at to get to the right place to find the coverage that you need. You can also call the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk at 866-311-1119. The help desk is staffed with Spanish-speaking staff and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Get Covered Illinois will be hosting various enrollment events throughout the state offering free, in-person help with marketplace navigators and agents until Dec. 15. Many of these events will hold extended hours to make help more accessible and convenient for residents.

For a complete list of enrollment events, please visit or call their help desk at 866-311-1119 for more details.

Burbank Unemployment Office
5608 W. 75th Pl., Chicago | Dec. 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A certified bilingual In-Person Counselor will be at the Burbank Unemployment Office educating the public about the Affordable Care Act and enrolling those who qualify for Medicaid. Call 773-227-7794.

Educational/ Enrollment event at South Chicago Community Center
8650 S. Commercial Ave., Chicago | Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a new way to find coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs. Whether you’re uninsured, or just want to explore your choices, the Marketplace will help find coverage that’s right for you. Call 312-805-1866 for details.

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Workshop
4814 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago | Dec. 12, 10 a.m. – noon
The Westside Health Authority cordially invites you to learn about a new way to get Health Insurance for You and Your Staff, to improve the quality of life and retain employees. Refreshments will be served
Please RSVP by contacting Anthony P. Johnson – 773-664-0339.

St. Joseph Hospital ACA Enrollment Workshop
2900 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago | Dec. 12, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Did you miss your chance to sign up for health insurance last year? Open enrollment resumed Nov. 15 and Medicaid enrollment is open year round. You may also qualify to enroll now if you had a special life event (marriage, childbirth, job loss, moving). A state certified health insurance navigator is available to answer your questions and help you enroll on site! Call 773-883-9100 for details.

ACA Enrollment at Uptown Library
929 W. Buena Ave., Chicago | Dec. 12, 1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Do you have questions about your health insurance options? Would you like in-person assistance enrolling in a health care option? In Person Counselors will be available at the library to provide information and enrollment assistance. Call 312-784-9060 for details.

Open ACA Enrollment Event at the Muslim Community Center
4380 N. Elston Ave., Chicago | Dec. 12, 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Free in-person assistance in English and Arabic will be available for people who are interested in enrolling in affordable health coverage. Call 312-721-3803 for details.

Enrollment at Presence St Mary Hospital
2233 W. Division St., Chicago | Dec. 15, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Need help understanding your health options? Want to learn more about health insurance and the Marketplace? A certified bilingual In-Person Counselor will be at Presence St. Mary’s Hospital educating the public about the Affordable Care Act and assisting with enrollments. Call 773-227-7794 for details.

ACA Enrollment Corazon Comminity Services
5330 W. 25th St., Cicero | Dec. 15, 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Free in-person assistance will be available for people who are interested in enrolling in affordable health coverage. Call 708-656-1400 for details.

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