On Sunday, October 6th, Be Covered Illinois hosted a Care Fair with many of its partners on Chicago’s southwest side. It was a sight to see! The doors opened at 11:00am, but by 9:45, a line of people stretched outside the building waiting to get in. By the time the event ended at 5:00pm, 5,227 visitors had attended the event. Fifty-two registered In-Person Counselors representing 15 community organizations staffed the enrollment area, the largest gathering of certified navigators yet to be seen in the nation. A big ‘thank you’ and a shout-out to the following agencies for supporting the event with navigators:
• AIDS Foundation of Chicago
• Chicago Childcare Society
• Children’s Home and Aid
• Chinese American Service League
• El Hogar del Nino
• Health Leads USA
• Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention
• Instituto del Progreso Latino
• Lawndale Christian Development Corporation
• Metropolitan Family Services
• Pilsen Wellness Center
• Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Prime Care
• Sinai Community Institute
• The Resurrection Project
• United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
Despite the fact that the federal site – healthcare.gov – was still having difficulties, the resourceful navigators were able to engage attendees in conversations about the law and make hundreds of follow-up appointments with those seeking to enroll in health coverage on the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace.
In addition to navigators, there were six groups serving as subject matter experts to help answer questions about the new health care law, and 36 organizations that provided information on the resources they provide for communities. The event was supported by almost 200 volunteers, as well as dedicated medical professionals that provided seven different medical screenings, including 527 flu and TDAP vaccines. As a thank you for attending the event, each family left with a bag of healthy groceries, 2,000 bags in all.
The day’s events were a testament to the fact that there is both interest in and the need to secure access to health insurance, and more importantly, health care services for the many people who until now had few healthcare options. With ACA, they will now have many more opportunities to secure access to coordinated, high quality healthcare when they need it.
The Be Covered Illinois Care Fair provided an important opportunity for community organizations to educate attendees about health reform and the health insurance marketplace and how the law can benefit them. People who came were genuinely hungry for knowledge. Knowledge is power, and that Sunday we empowered 5,227 people to have the information they need to gain new access to health care – care that they told us in no uncertain terms – was not only wanted, but desperately needed. As the day wound down, their personal stories and the smiles on their faces were all I needed to confirm that this Be Covered Illinois Care Fair was truly a success.
Words, however, cannot do justice to the positive spirit and collaboration that infused the Care Fair. To get a better sense of that, please take a look at the story that Sarah Schulte of ABC-7 News did on the news that evening.
If you wish to join us as a Be Covered partner organization, request resources or learn more about what we’re doing, please visit: www.becoveredillinois.org
Chair, Be Covered Illinois Campaign
Vice President, Community Investments
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois