Get Covered Illinois' open enrollment period launches

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The second annual open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act for Get Covered Illinois officially launched Saturday. (WLS)

Saturday marks the first day of enrollment for the Affordable Health Care Act. This is the second year the program, also known as "Obamacare" has been available. And while many already signed up last year, challenges remain.

When the ACA launched last year it was problems with the website that quickly became the biggest obstacle for people looking to sign up for health insurance. This year, that particular problem seems to have been overcome, but issues remain and officials are still having a hard time reaching out to young adults and minorities.

The Affordable Care Act's second open enrollment period started Saturday and with it, some 70 events were scheduled all across the Chicago area to help the uninsured find a health care plan that is right for them.

"My health is fairly good now, but I do go in for my maintenance coverage and annual prescription it's very very expensive when you don't have insurance," said Christina Tucker.

And while many showed up to events like one at the South Shore Cultural Center, officials say they're still having a hard time reaching the uninsured, particularly minorities.

"People weren't sure this was real," said Dana Strickland, Metropolitan Family Services. "People didn't realize who qualified, who didn't qualify. People didn't realize they could get financial assistance."

Over 700,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance under Get Covered Illinois last year. Those people can do nothing and remain with their current plans, but officials are encouraging them to shop around.

"We have so many new options available we're strongly encouraging our enrollees to come back and shop and make sure they have the best plan for them and their family or see if they can get a better deal," said Jennifer Kohler, Get Covered Illinois.

Still, a lot of critics remain. The Affordable Care Act faces legal challenges in the United States Supreme Court and many Republicans favor overturning the law. Outgoing Governor Pat Quinn said he hopes his Republican successor will choose to support the program's expansion.

"We've covered more people than Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana combined through the Affordable Care Act. We want to keep the momentum going," Gov. Quinn said.

Uninsured residents must enroll by December 15 to ensure they have coverage January 1, 2015.

Residents with questions about health insurance can call 866-311-1119 to schedule a free, in-person meeting with a representative from Get Covered Illinois. Information about enrollment events and healthcare options can be found on
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healthnewshealth carehealth insuranceaffordable care actObamacareIllinoisChicago - South Shore
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