Open enrollment for ACA Obamacare runs through December 15. Appointments with Heartland Health Centers navigators to get enrolled are available by calling 773.751.7800 and more information is available at getcoveredillinois.gov.
Jeremy Wechsler, Producing Artistic Director for the Wit Theater, drew a breath before sharing his life-changing story of finally getting health insurance at a Get Covered Illinois news conference organized by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky at HHC-Wilson on December 2.
He was there along with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Schakowsky, state Rep. Robyn Gabel and community leaders and advocates from Everthrive, Get Covered Illinois, Shriver Center, Thresholds and other groups, to encourage Chicagoans to sign up for Affordable Care Act ‘Obamacare’ health insurance coverage.
“I get nervous telling this story because I kept it secret for so long,” he told local leaders and television news cameras who gathered for the news conference. Years ago, Wechsler said, his mother was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can cause early death and may be passed on genetically. He hid the possibility that he had the disease and avoided discussing it with doctors, even though he knew he “might drop dead.”
“Back then, you couldn’t have a pre-existing condition,” Wechsler said. “For 20 years I did not get any kind of heart diagnostic treatment.”
The Affordable Care Act changed Wechsler’s life: “I went online and got coverage in 20 minutes,” he said. “The cost was less than I had paid for my employer-provided coverage.” He soon found that he did not have the most severe form of the disease that afflicted his mother, and was able to insure his children could be tested, as well.
Wechsler’s story was the centerpiece of a news conference, one of dozens being organized by Get Covered Illinois around the state, to publicize ACA Open Enrollment.
Also at the event, Heartland Health Centers CEO Gwenn Rausch shared a story she’d heard a few days earlier in a job interview: a self-employed woman shared that before Obamacare she had a three-day hospitalization that left her with a bill for more than $90,000. “It took her five years to pay off that bill for those three days in a hospital,” Rausch said.
“When I talk to our providers and staff,” Rausch added, “there is nothing more heart wrenching than to hear about someone who avoided a doctor’s appointment or follow up test because of lack of insurance and then learn on their first visit of a condition so advanced there is nothing or very little to be done.”