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There’s a well-known expression “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” that highlights the importance of a balanced diet as a way to avoid getting sick. It’s important to know that in addition to diet and exercise, screenings, vaccines and tests are preventive services available today that can do even more to promote healthy living. These services are all included with all health plans that can be obtained through the Get Covered Illinois (GCI). This is why GCI is urging people to explore their coverage options through the Marketplace and enroll in a plan.

A key to staying healthy is that once you have coverage, you have to use the benefits available, especially these important preventive services that can actually help keep you from getting sick or getting injured.

All private Marketplace plans cover essential health benefits, including everything from hospitalization and laboratory services to prescription drugs, management of chronic illnesses, and routine doctor visits. Additional benefits include family planning, maternity and newborn care, mental health, outpatient services, habilitative/rehabilitative services and devices, and pediatric care.

“We know that these essential health benefits and preventive services are critical to a healthier Illinois,” said Jennifer Koehler, Executive Director, GCI. “No one plans to get sick or hurt, which is why routine visits with a medical expert are crucial. Regular check-ups with a doctor help you keep track of your overall health, as well as give you peace of mind.”

After enrolling in coverage, residents should take these three next steps to make sure they’re on the right track with staying healthy:

  • Find a doctor within your insurance company’s network
  • Schedule your first appointment, making sure to ask about what to bring to the appointment
  • Prepare for your visit by bringing the necessary paperwork and documentation, making a list of any medications you take, and preparing questions you have for your doctor about your health


According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 121,000 people enrolled or re-enrolled in a healthcare plan in the first month of enrollment for the second year of GCI, which means that more than 800,000 people in Illinois have obtained health care coverage since October of 2013, when the first open enrollment period began.

With only several weeks remaining in the Open Enrollment Period, Illinoisans are encouraged to call the GCI Help Desk at (866) 311-1119 to schedule an appointment for free, in-person help from a trained professional near you. To begin February with coverage, residents must enroll before Jan. 15 and the deadline for open enrollment is Feb. 15. Those who remain uninsured after the deadline may be subject to a fine on their 2015 taxes. For more information and to enroll, visit GetCoveredIllinois.gov.

Get Covered, Stay Healthy was originally published on chicagodefender.com

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