Health fair informs about 'Obamacare'

October 6, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The free community event drew thousands of people who wanted to know more about insurance coverage provided by the nation's new health care law.

Over 5,000 people attended today's event, which is more than organizers expected. BeCovered Illinois says it tells them that people have a big desire to learn about the new law and part of the learning process includes dispelling the law's misconceptions.

Before the doors opened, hundreds of people lined up for the first time since the Affordable Care Act began last week. A fair was held in Chicago to give curiosity-seekers some one-on-one help in navigating the new law.

"We are trying to get people to understand what the law is about and how it benefit, educate and encourage to enroll," said Donna Gerber, BeCovered Illinois.

The statewide grass roots campaign called BeCovered Illinois is responsible for getting the word out, especially in communities with higher percentages of people without health insurance.

"There is going to be a lot more options so you can get better health insurance," Gerber said.

Folake Kelinde and her friend came to check it out while she has limited coverage now. Kelinde was denied health insurance a few years ago because of her weight and high blood pressure. The 37-year-old is thrilled the new law provides coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

However, Kelinde admits she's a bit hesitant about the mandate that requires coverage for all.

"I looked at it like, I was nervous, I'm being forced, it's going to help me more than anything," she said.

While Carmen Esquivel was lured into the fair because of its free health screenings, the uninsured mother of five says it's too early to figure out the pros or cons of the law.

"Right now, I got a lot of info so I'll see what I can I do follow up on the phone numbers I got," she said.

BeCovered Illinois expects people to take their time before signing up.

"I think once they know where to go who to talk to. It will take several visits, right choices for them," Gerber said.

And while the goal is to get people signed up, going through the process to review options may be best for now, considering the Affordable Care Act federal website is overwhelmed with so many people using it at once.

Meanwhile, BeCovered Illinois has hired several workers to guide people through the process over the phone.

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