PROJECT ON THE UNINSURED
There are approximately 1.7 million uninsured residents in Illinois. Most uninsured adults in Illinois are low income; most are employed (either in a small business or self-employed); and a large number have significant medical needs. Research has shown that uninsured individuals have poorer health outcomes than those with insurance: the uninsured receive less preventive care, are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once diagnosed, tend to receive less therapeutic care (drugs and surgical interventions). In addition, having health insurance would reduce mortality rates for the uninsured by 10-15 percent. Due to these grave consequences, the lack of available and affordable health insurance has become one of the most critical public policy issues at the local, state and national level.
While Illinois has taken a large first step to address the issue by providing access to state-funded health insurance coverage for all uninsured children (approximately 300,000) through its All Kids program, approximately 1.4 million adults, aged 18-64, remain uninsured. (For more information on the All Kids program click here to go to its website.) Like much of the rest of the nation, employer-based coverage in Illinois has dropped (down 2.5% since 2000) while Illinois’ Medicaid program has grown (up 1.6% since 2000). Now more than ever leadership is needed to address these problems.
With the generous support of the Michael Reese Health Trust and the Chicago Community Trust, Health & Disability Advocates (HDA) has played an active role in the preliminary development of new health care policy in Illinois to cover the uninsured. Through its Project on the Uninsured, HDA, has participated in the Adequate Health Care Task Force (Task Force) – a statewide body that was established in 2004 by the Health Care Justice Act and is the primary vehicle in the state for making health insurance accessible to all Illinois residents. As policy development consultants, HDA brought in national speakers to the Task Force on best practices in health care reform and provided state specific expertise on how to cover low income and disabled populations.
In response to the Task Force’s request to study up to six health care access strategies, HDA, in collaboration with the Campaign for Better Health Care, and with technical expertise from Families USA and the National Academy for State Health Policy, crafted a "Consumer Health Care Access Strategy." The “Consumer Health Care Access Strategy” has six main components: (1) Public Program Expansions; (2) Expansion of COBRA & ICHIP; (3) Purchasing Pool for Individuals and Small Groups; (4) Employer Responsibility for Health Care; (5) Individual Responsibility with Consumer Protections; and (6) Establishment of Regional and Advisory Task Forces. The strategy prioritizes provisions for including both low-income and high risk/disabled individuals in the health insurance market. In addition, it builds on the strength of the existing public and private-based systems. To see a copy of the Consumer Health Care Access Strategy in pdf format, click here.
The Task Force voted to combine aspects of several of the proposals submitted and ultimately created a “hybrid” health care coverage expansion model, which would cover 98% of the non-elderly uninsured population in the state. HDA’s recommendations for health care expansions for disabled populations were incorporated directly into this hybrid model. On January 26, 2007, the Task Force issued their final recommendations to Governor Blagojevich and the General Assembly. To see a copy of the Task Force's final report in pdf format click here.
During the upcoming year, HDA will continue to devise and refine policy recommendations and solutions to address the uninsured problem in Illinois as well as help educate legislators and consumers on health care reform in Illinois. HDA's direct client services for children, adults and older adults with special health care needs, gives us an intimate knowledge of barriers to adequate, quality health care. In HDA’s ten years building health policy in Illinois from the ground up, we have also created partnerships with stakeholders—health care providers, governmental officials, and advocates for health care consumers—that will be critical for moving the health care debate into action.
For more information about the Project on the Uninsured contact Stephani Becker at 312-223-9600.
Click here to learn more about the Health Care Justice Act.
Online LibraryHDA has a wide variety of documents related to covering the uninsured in our online Materials Library.
Here are some of the valuable resources you'll find there:
This document describes recent changes to Illinois' FamilyCare program which decrease the income eligibility standards for new enrollees.
This report provides a description of health care in Illinois. It includes an overall snapshot of statewide statistics as well as individual statistics for each Illinois State Senate District.
The 2007 Children's Health Policy Report describes the recent health care expansions for children in Illinois and explains HDA's role in furthering those expansions. In particular, the Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children (CMLPC) has played a key role in identifying systemic barriers to health care coverage for Illinois' children.