United Way Makes Historic Effort To Connect People With The Health Insurance Exchange

Last July, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago was awarded a grant by the State of Illinois to help guide Chicagoans into insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by hiring “navigators,” folks who would sit down with their neighbors and help them to pick coverage that was right for themselves and their families. This is an incredibly personal and important decision to ensure the health and financial stability of Chicago’s, and the nation’s families.  United Way has been one of the leaders in Illinois attempting to bring this peace-of-mind to those we serve every day.

ACA has been a bit of a controversy locally and nationally, both the legislation itself and the rollout.  What comes without conflict, though, is how hard each and every one of the more than sixty navigators under the UW grant has worked over the past eight months to help bring coverage to their neighbors. We’ve held office hours. We extended those hours. We worked every weekend. We knocked on doors to make sure everyone knew where they could go to enroll. We went to churches and shelters, and we held remote enrollment sessions, spending up to 3 hours with each client to make sure they got the coverage they needed. When that wasn’t enough, we rescheduled. We spent hours on the phone with call center after call center.

As they say, coverage ain’t easy.

There’s a folder filled with client success stories sitting on my desk at United Way of Metro Chicago. There’s just too many for this one post. Each story has one common phrase – “Thank you SO much.” Many of our clients have never had coverage before. Words can’t begin to describe the feeling that comes with knowing you can take your kid to the doctor when they get sick and not have to make the decision to get the treatment they need or whether to eat this week.

We’ve helped 5,000 people enroll in affordable coverage in six months. We’ve reached out and touched the lives of more than 140,000 Chicagoans, letting them know that we’re here for them to help them through this whole new world called ACA. This project has been a wild ride, one that has been incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally. The double edged sword is that there are still hundreds of thousands of families out there who need our help.

It’s a daunting task, but we’ll get there.

Submitted by Bill Green, Grant Manager – IPC Grant

One Comment

  1. Tom Galassini

    Congrats to UWMC, its subgrantees and all awardees who did and continue to do yeoman’s work educating and enrolling individuals. Great community leadership!


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