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Chicago pastor leading health insurance enrollment efforts: Get Covered Illinois

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On Sunday, February 2, Rev. Walter W. Matthews Sr. announced the Get Covered Illinois church-based enrollment events during the worship service at Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church  located at 7545 S. Vincennes Ave. in Chicago. Members were provided the opportunity to ask questions and assistance with enrollment. Charles Watkins, regional outreach coordinator for Get Covered Illinois will also be present to answer questions about the enrollment drive.

“As a Pastor, I know firsthand how access to quality health care affects the physical and spiritual well-being of our community,” offers Rev. Matthews Sr. “The African American faith community is proud to partner with Get Covered Illinois to provide uninsured residents with the enrollment assistance they need to secure affordable, comprehensive health coverage.”

“The Affordable Care Act provides an historic opportunity to close the gap of the uninsured and reduce health disparities that disproportionately affect minority communities,” said Jennifer Koehler, executive director for Get Covered Illinois. “Black History Month is an important opportunity to address health barriers impacting the African American community and remind uninsured residents of the affordable, comprehensive coverage options available to them.”

As of December 28, 2013, more than 61,111 Illinois residents have signed up for coverage through the Marketplace. Individuals, families and small business owners have until March 31 to enroll in a health plan before receiving a fine. In order to get coverage beginning March 1, enrollment must be completed by February 15.

Nearly one third of African Americans in Illinois are uninsured. African Americans are impacted by greater health disparities compared to other races and ethnicities for a number of reasons, including lack of access to affordable health care. African Americans are twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed with diabetes, and are disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. According to the Centers of Disease and Control, insurance coverage is strongly related to better health outcomes.

Participating churches will facilitate and provide enrollment resources available through Get Covered Illinois to their congregations and to members of the surrounding community. State-trained Navigators will also be present at these churches throughout February to answer questions, schedule enrollment appointments and enroll residents on-site.

For a complete list of enrollment events throughout the state, visit Enter your zip code or address to find an event near you. Call the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk at (866) 311-1119. Operators available daily from 8 am – 8 pm.

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