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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

A blog by IllinoisHealthMatters.org

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Empowering Illinoisans: What’s "in it for them” in Health Care Reform


With the planned opening of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace now less than a month away, more people across Illinois are starting to sit up and take notice. While there’s been plenty of discussion about health care reform leading up to this; too many people remain unaware of this new law and the benefits it may offer to them and their families.

The Affordable Care Act or as some simply say “Obamacare” – means that millions more Americans will now have greater access to affordable health insurance coverage Expanding access to care and improving health care quality are undoubtedly good things. But, let’s face it; health insurance can be confusing!

The first step is to help people understand what the new law has to offer in simple and understandable ways. And the second step is to encourage them to take action by enrolling in a health insurance plan that meets their needs.

Successfully accomplishing these two steps will take a concerted and coordinated effort among the State of Illinois and the many other groups who share the goal of successfully implementing the Affordable Care Act in Illinois. Many organizations, including the many involved in Illinois Health Matters, have been committed to outreach and education for several years. And the State of Illinois is now in the process of launching its widespread community outreach and education campaign.

We at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois also wanted to contribute to Illinois’ public education effort about the new health care reform law. That’s why we launched the Be Covered Illinois outreach and education campaign back in April. Be Covered Illinois is an unbranded grass roots campaign that works with and through a diverse coalition of partners. Today we have 42 community partners across the State and the list is growing daily. Be Covered Illinois community partners know their neighborhoods, the people, the issues important to them and are the most trusted and credible messengers able to communicate most effectively.

What Be Covered Illinois does is support its partners by providing easy to understand information about the Affordable Care Act through multiple distribution channels, including: 
  • Personal outreach where trained Be Covered Illinois speakers can explain the changes under health reform to groups;
  • Representatives at community parades and festivals passing out information that people can take home and look over. 
  • Examples of currently available “consumer-friendly” Be Covered Illinois printed materials in both English and Spanish include fact sheets, brochures, key dates and a glossary of insurance terms that many folks may be unfamiliar with. And as we learn the questions that people have, we continue to produce new materials to answer them. 
To be clear, Be Covered Illinois materials are not Blue Cross branded product marketing, but rather an unbranded campaign to educate people about ACA and encourage them to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Be Covered Illinois information can also be accessed through a bi-lingual informational website (www.BeCoveredIllinois.Org), a mobile texting campaign (JoinIL to 33633) where folks can sign up to receive information and updates via their cell phones, or on Facebook and Twitter. Be Covered Illinois even has a toll free helpline number (1-888-809-2796) that people can call to speak with trained health reform experts to answer any and all questions.

In our shared commitment to partner with the State, Illinois Health Matters and the other Illinois education and outreach to broaden awareness during this time of historic health care reform, we invite you to review and access the Be Covered Illinois materials that we currently offer our community partners by visiting www.BeCoveredIllinois.Org. Or better yet, we invite you and your organization to sign up to become a Be Covered partner. As a partner, we will keep you abreast of the latest available materials, provide you with quantities of print copies of materials and work with you to plan an effective education campaign tailored to your organization’s needs to ensure your constituents take action before the end of open enrollment!

I also want to let you know that Be Covered Illinois will be hosting a community Care Fair with our partner organizations on Sunday, October 6th, so mark your calendars now. The event will be held at Chicago Indoor Sports, at 3900 S. Ashland Ave., from 11:00am to 5:00pm and offer fun family activities, a kids’ zone, free health screenings and flu shots, offer help in understanding the new health care law, as well as direct folks to Illinois Navigators and In-Person counselors who can assist them, some of which we expect to be in attendance. Attendees can even leave with a free bag of healthy groceries! Be sure to join us for a fun and informative Sunday afternoon and let your community members know about it.

Information is power, and we want to work with you to empower as many Illinoisans as we can!

Donna Gerber

Chair, Be Covered Illinois Campaign
Vice President, Community Investments
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

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