The Affordable Care Act's Successful First Enrollment Period

April 1, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- The success of the open enrollment period truly shows Americans’ desperate need for access to affordable healthcare.

More than seven million Americans have enrolled in private plans. Millions more have enrolled through their parents’ plans or through Medicaid. Of these millions of Americans, many are now insured for first time, finally getting the coverage they need. This is truly a monumental accomplishment.

We have reached these goals despite massive Republican efforts, including those from people like the Koch Brothers, spending millions of dollars to misinform people about Obamacare.

With Obamacare in place, no American, including 5.6 million Illinoisans, can ever again be denied coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. In Illinois, 125,000 young adults, under the age of 26, can now stay on their parents’ health plans. The unemployed, at their most vulnerable point, have a viable option for affordable coverage so they could get the care they need to survive injury or illness, without being bankrupted by medical bills.

Just over a week ago in Chicago, I joined with Get Covered America and Get Covered Illinois to host a 4th birthday for Obamacare. The most moving moments in our celebration were the speeches of the following three enrollees:

William Zars, a former photographer for the Daily Herald had a heart attack and then during surgery had a massive stroke which blinded him in both eyes. He lost his job and later his wife, who also worked for the Herald, lost her job as well. Yet he was able to enroll in health insurance under the ACA; he has secured better coverage than he had before and is thrilled to have his new plan.

Dywaine Betts is a career development counselor for a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated men. He was hesitant to enroll at first because he didn’t think he could afford good health insurance.  But, he signed up and now pays $190/month for his plan. He understands the importance of coverage because years ago he faced high medical bills from a bout with appendicitis, when he was uninsured. Since signing up he has been sharing the information with others, including many of the men he counsels, who are around his age.

Erin McDonald has Type 1 Diabetes, was uninsured and scared when she had to get off of her father’s plan when she turned 26. But she has enrolled in coverage and is very happy with her plan. She wrote a letter to the editor that was in the Chicago Tribune in February and won a contest for a video about Obamacare.

These are three success stories out of millions. I am so glad we live in a country that is truly prioritizing the health of all of its citizens. I will continue to work with anyone who is devoted to helping as many Americans as possible enjoy healthy lives.