The Stories of Five Illinoisans Helped by the Affordable Care Act

April 23, 2014
Press Release

The Affordable Healthcare Act is changing lives. 8 Million Americans have signed up for Health Insurance under the Affordable Care Act and 35% of those are under 35. The Affordable Care Act is all about making sure Americans have the health coverage they need.   The below five stories put a face on the more than 313,000 Illinoisans who now have health coverage and the 5.6 million Illinoisans, who can never be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition. 

“I can use my doctor …

without a fear of lack of funds.”

Jackie Berman, 64 – Chicago, IL
Jackie Berman, a 64-year-old widow and former special education teacher, successfully enrolled in health insurance through the Marketplace with the help of an ACA navigator in November. This was extremely important to her because she sustained serious injuries when she was hit by a car. The plan she selected will allow her to continue seeing her trusted primary doctor, surgeon and orthopedic specialist. Jackie feels like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders. She receives the healthcare she needs at a price that is affordable to her.

“The expansion of Medicaid has

literally saved my life.” 

Erin McDonald, 26 – Chicago, IL
As a 26-year-old type 1 diabetic, Erin McDonald was on the hook for her hefty health care bills when she graduated from Law School and couldn’t find a job. Her type one diabetes was considered a pre-existing condition and in the past insurance companies denied her coverage. Then her mother received an email about CountyCare, a Medicaid program implemented under the Affordable Care Act, so Erin applied and was accepted into the program. Going forward Erin can no longer be refused health insurance for being diabetic or be charged higher premiums simply because she is a woman.

“Forget about the Price Tag”, a song Erin composed, won the Young Invincibles’ Healthy Young American video contest.

See more on Erin’s story in the Chicago Tribune.

Dywaine Betts, 26 – Chicago, IL 

A healthy 26 year old, Dywaine was not expecting health care costs but an emergency appendectomy left him still paying off the medical bills. Through the Illinois exchange, Dywaine enrolled in a Silver plan and is happy to have affordable insurance and is confident that he is prepared for the unexpected. Before open enrollment ended he counseled others to enroll in health insurance through the marketplace.

William Zars – Arlington Heights, IL 

William Zars had a heart attack and during surgery had a massive stroke which blinded him in both eyes. As a result he lost his job as a photographer at the Daily Herald, and his wife, who also worked for the Herald, lost her job too. His COBRA was running out.  Under the Affordable Care Act, Will found an affordable health care policy with Blue Cross that provides better coverage than his old plan. Previously, he would have been denied coverage because of his pre-existing conditions.

"If I didn't have insurance, I wouldn't have a baby.”

Meg Finnegan, 37 – Evanston, IL 

As a woman with a pre-existing condition, Meg Finnegan had a hard time finding Health Insurance and especially a policy covering pregnancy and childbirth. "When you don't have insurance, you're afraid of any life event that brings you to the hospital, for a good or a bad reason. If I didn't have insurance, I wouldn't have a baby. All those doctor's appointments and tests, and possibly a high-risk delivery — how would you pay for it?,” Meg said. Through the federal online marketplace (, Meg found 25 plans to choose from. She picked a Blue Cross Blue Shield gold-level plan that her doctor accepted.

See more of Megan’s story in the Chicago Tribune.


Open Enrollment for 2014 coverage is over, but if you have had a Qualifying Life Event or could not complete the process before March 31 due to a complex issue, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Visit for more information.