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In-person counselors will focus on connecting HIV-positive, LGBT, homeless Illinoisans to health insurance
For the second year, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) has been awarded a grant to fund in-person counselors (IPCs) to help individuals enroll for health insurance through the Get Covered Illinois In-Person Counselor Program.
In collaboration with AIDS Legal Council of Chicago and Howard Brown Health Center, AFC will focus on connecting communities to health insurance plans who often face barriers to medical care — people who are HIV-positive, LGBT, experiencing homelessness, formerly incarcerated, aged 12-24 and/or experiencing severe mental illness.
“It’s crucial that we help our most vulnerable communities connect to health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” said Daliah Mehdi, chief clinical officer at AFC. “If we are able to help communities that see higher rates of HIV infection have access to care, we can make a difference in people’s lives — and the future of the epidemic.”
Last year, the AFC-managed In-Person Counselor Program connected 3,427 individuals to the information and assistance they needed through the trained guidance of 13 IPCs, and AFC aims to match this capacity with six IPCs during the second enrollment period, starting Nov. 15.
AFC will also have four Medical Benefits Coordinators who will assist clients in Chicago and the suburban areas who are living with HIV and need assistance enrolling in the marketplace, Medication Assistance Program and Medicaid.
The In-Person Counselor Program aims to help people complete Marketplace application forms before the enrollment deadline, assist people with applications to Medicaid, educate people about the fact that there is no deadline for Medicaid enrollment, and teach people about special enrollment periods.
Because AFC’s program is specifically designed to reach out to marginalized communities, IPCs will engage in cultural competency training to better understand the unique needs of each of their target populations. Beyond assisting those in need through the insurance enrollment process, IPCs will also be trained to guide clients to other resources that can help remove barriers to health care, such as housing programs, food pantries, domestic violence organizations, language assistance and Medicare.
AFC is one of 37 organizations that received part of a $25.8 million federal grant to support ACA implementation in Illinois.
Enrollment for coverage in 2015 through the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace will run from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015.
Need help applying for insurance coverage? Call AFC's hotline number to be referred to a Medical Benefits Coordinator or an In-Person Counselor: 312-784-9060.