Illinois PIRG Education Fund Helps Illinois Students Navigate New Health Insurance Landscape

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Rachel Binstock

Illinois PIRG Education Fund Launches Project to Bring Facts and Tips to 60,000 College Students Across Illinois

Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Chicago, Illinois — With the main parts of the Affordable Care Act now going into effect, Illinois PIRG Education Fund has launched a statewide education campaign reaching out to students with facts about the changes, and tips to help them find the right coverage for themselves.

“Students have lots of questions about health insurance,” said Emma Chupein, UIC student and Illinois PIRG Education Fund intern, “that’s why we’re sharing these tips to help students find good insurance that won’t break the bank.”

At an event launching the project at University of Illinois in Chicago, Illinois PIRG Education Fund released the new guide, So You Need Health Insurance. Now What? Illinois Health Insurance 101.

“Many of us are uninsured, or will lose our current coverage pretty soon, but don’t know what to do next,” said Hailey Stueber, President elect of UIC’s chapter of American Pharmacists Association, Academy of Student Pharmacists. “We’ll lose our family coverage when we turn 26, or we’ll graduate and have to get off the student health plan. We need facts and information so we can make good decisions.”

Beginning January 1, 2014, most Americans will be required to have insurance coverage or pay a fee. On October 1, Get Covered Illinois, the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, opened for Illinoisans looking for health insurance. By visiting Get Covered Illinois’s website, consumers can compare different insurance plans apples to apples, and find out about financial help they may qualify for to help lower their premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

“The roll out of the Affordable Care Act and the launch of Get Covered Illinois are huge victories for young people,” explains Kathy Waligora, Health Reform Outreach Coordinator for Ever Thrive Illinois, a community health nonprofit that believes access to quality care is a basic human right. “By bringing young adults into health insurance earlier, we will be able to establish healthy habits, like the use of preventive and primary care, that will result in a healthier future of individuals and our country.”

Maria Belen Morales is one of those young adults who will finally have access to coverage. She is currently insured under a school plan but had been uninsured until she started university in 2011. She is looking forward to checking out the options at Get Covered Illinois. “It will be good to be able to go to one website and look at all my options, and find out about what financial help I might get,” she said. She understood the importance of having coverage after she took an expensive trip to the emergency room this past February and received a bill of over $1000.

Patrick Corcoran, Regional Outreach Coordinator with the Governor’s Office, for the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, reinforces the important role Illinois PIRG Education Fund’s Illinois Health Insurance 101 guide will play. “Young people need coverage just as much as the their parents and grandparents. This is an important resource that will help young people understand what the ACA means for them, providing them tips and helpful tools to get affordable coverage.”

Illinois PIRG Education Fund’s top tips for students include:

1. Look into ongoing options such as staying on your parents’ plan until you turn 26, or enrolling in the student health plan.

2. Check out new options at Get Covered Illinois by talking to an in-person counselor with the SEIU Benefits Center online at or by phone at 1-855-SIGN-UP8 (1-855-744-6878). Plans listed there cover preventive care, hospitalizations, office visits, prescriptions and more.

3. Find out about financial help that’s available when you apply at Get Covered Illinois.

4. Compare plans side-by-side, in plain language at Get Covered Illinois.

5. Don’t let insurance companies turn you away if you have a pre-existing condition.

6. Get expert help comparing insurance plans and signing up online, by phone or in-person. Connect with specially trained people who can help you at Get Covered Illinois.

7. Find out more in the online guide, So, You Need Health Insurance. Now What? Illinois Health Insurance 101.

8. Get involved in the campaign as a volunteer or intern to help get the word out on campus. Find out more at


Illinois PIRG Education Fund is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization. Visit us at