About 900,000 Illinoisans, or 7.1 percent of state residents, lacked health insurance in 2015. That's down from 1.2 million uninsured in 2014 and far fewer than the 1.6 million who were without insurance in 2013, before many provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine and bars insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Nationally, 9.4 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2015, down from 14.5 percent in 2013.
The law also led to the creation of online marketplaces, or exchanges, where individuals can buy health insurance and often receive tax credits to offset the costs of that coverage. A number of states, including
"This is exactly what we've been working toward for six years now," Waligora said. "It's exciting to be at a point now where we're really starting to see the fruits of that labor."
The department previously said that 7.9 percent of Illinoisans lacked insurance in 2015. That number doesn't include older adults eligible for
The Census figure is a bright spot amid a series of disappointments for
Also, a number of insurers have abandoned the exchange in
"There's fewer choices, the prices of the plans are going up, and that's going to impact everyone whether you're getting subsidies or not," Lackman said.
said her family doesn't qualify for much in tax credits because of the family's income level. About 25 percent of Illinoisans on the exchange don't get the credits. Hester and her husband are expecting their first child in November, and their monthly premium is already almost as high as their rent.
"For me personally, I feel like especially with a baby on the way, it's really not an option to go without," Hester said.
She knows, however, that those without immediate medical needs might feel differently about buying insurance. Hester didn't have health insurance for two years when she was younger because she feared paying high premiums.
Still, others are optimistic that
"While the marketplace has been open three years now, it's easy to forget we're still in a transition," said EverThrive Illinois' Waligora. "Implementing any sort of meaningful change takes time."
Gold noted that even with potentially higher premiums, most Illinoisans who buy insurance on the exchange will spend less than
"I do think with aggressive outreach and enrollment efforts we can make a much bigger dent than we have in the uninsured rate," Corlette said.
According to the
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