News Local/State

Meeting The Health Care.Gov Deadline

health care forms

A number of forms and other paperwork await clients at Champaign County Health Care Consumers in Champaign. (Jeff Bossert/WILL)

Under the Affordable Care Act, a number of agencies are helping people shop for coverage in order to meet the first deadline.  Champaign-Urbana is no exception.

Anyone shopping on the marketplace needs to enroll by Monday in order to be covered by January 1st.

Those helping out in Champaign-Urbana include Frances Nelson Health Center, helping applicants in the marketplace.   Separately, both Frances Nelson and Champaign County Health Care Consumers are helping with ongoing enrollment with Illinois’ expanded Medicaid program.

Nancy Greenwalt is executive director of Promise Healthcare, the health center’s parent group.  She said as of December 1st, about 700 people had come through her office to seek help applying for Medicaid.

She said many are surprised they qualify for discounted care, including a woman who was formerly on the program, when her kids were younger.

“Our provider knew her income, and said I think you’re eligible and you need to talk to our counselors, our application counselors, and worked with them and learned that she would be eligible for the expanded Medicaid," she said.  "And she didn’t have a dramatic health need, but what she said immediately was that ‘Now I can get a mammogram.  Now I can get some of the preventive screening that I couldn’t get before.' So she saw as a benefit to maintain her health.”

Crissy Turino, hotline coordinator at Champaign County Health Care Consumers, said the schedule is full of clients seeking help to register.

That might include checking out the ABE website – or Illinois’ Application for Benefits Eligibility.  Turino said the federal website’s performance is definitely improved since October:

"We would have to reschedule if we weren't able to get through the process," she said.  "And so we'd start, and then maybe have them come back.  A couple weeks later, we'd kind of feel out how the application was going, and keep staying in touch with our clients, and maybe have to schedule down the line with them.  At this point (Wednesday), we're definitely getting through."

Greenwalt said her office has seen more than 2,000 patients getting help through Medicaid and Health the last couple of months.