Health Insurance :: Lack of insurance sixth leading cause of death in U.S.

With more than 1.4 million adults in Illinois in need of health insurance, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, addressed the community today at the Edgar County Health Department about the importance of having health insurance and how Governor Rod R. Blagojevich?s Illinois Covered plan addresses the healthcare crisis in the state by providing access to affordable, quality healthcare to everyone in the state.

?At the heart of our plan is one simple goal: everyone should have access to affordable, quality healthcare,? said Gov. Blagojevich. ?The healthcare crisis in the United States is very real and very far-reaching. It?s not just low-income families that have trouble getting or keeping health coverage; it?s middle-class families, hard-working entrepreneurs, and small businesses. The cost of healthcare is growing at twice the rate of inflation, leaving more and more people behind every year.?

A majority, roughly 75 percent of those uninsured, are from families with moderate incomes or higher. Illinois Covered will provide affordable coverage to the uninsured and will also help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands a year on healthcare costs.

People who are uninsured are more likely to experience avoidable hospitalizations, be diagnosed at later stages with life-threatening diseases, be hospitalized on an emergency basis, be hospitalized for chronic conditions that could be better controlled with reliable access to physician services, and experience an increased risk of death. Lack of health insurance is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

The Governor?s plan will create affordable healthcare options, help with the high cost of insurance premiums and improve the overall healthcare system in Illinois. Illinois Covered gives everyone the opportunity to obtain health insurance at prices they can afford. The plan also includes initiatives to improve the overall healthcare delivery system, bring down healthcare costs, improve access and improve the quality of healthcare for all Illinoisans.

?The Illinois Department of Public Health is working to improve healthcare in Illinois through the Division of Patient Safety, created by the Governor last year to focus on reducing medical mistakes and improve patient safety,? said Dr. Whitaker. ?The Department is also working on an electronic health records system so health information can be securely exchanged between physicians and healthcare facilities anywhere in the state at any time.?

The primary components of Gov. Blagojevich?s Illinois Covered plan include:

Illinois Covered Choice: Creates a new, affordable comprehensive insurance plan that anyone without employer-sponsored health insurance in Illinois can purchase. This statewide pool of coverage will offer Illinoisans lower and stable rates. Business groups will be able to connect many of their members with this new affordable insurance, and small business owners can also purchase this product on behalf of their employees.

Illinois Covered Rebate: Lowers premiums formoderate to middle-income Illinoisans ($20,000-$80,000 for a family of four) to help them afford their health insurance. The rebate will vary based on income, and those with lower incomes would get a larger rebate.

Illinois Covered Assist: Similar to FamilyCare and Medicaid, individuals or couples who are very low-income will now have access to full coverage through the state (individuals currently making less than $10,210 annually, and couples making less than $13,690).

The Governor also proposes expanding the existing FamilyCare program to 400% of the federal poverty level for those who do not have access to employer sponsored coverage, to expand health benefits for workers with disabilities, and to allow dependants to retain coverage until age 29. Additionally, the state will work with both consumers and healthcare providers to develop a Roadmap to Health that will improve the state?s overall healthcare system and promote wellness, while better managing chronic conditions, the most important component for driving down overall healthcare costs.

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