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Health in Illinois Today

With 25 percent of young adults in Illinois living without insurance, it is more important than ever to help all Millennial Illinoisans take advantage of the benefits of healthcare.   The Affordable Care Act affects millions of Americans, but many remain confused about how they are impacted personally.  How can we make sure that all Illinois residents are getting the access to health coverage they need?

Who Regulates Health in Illinois? 

The Illinois government is uniquely positioned to impact the health outcomes of young adults in the state. The Illinois Department of Public Health works to protect the state’s residents from disease, collects statistics on medical conditions within the state, and publishes fact sheets to educate the public. The Illinois General Assembly has the authority to pass laws governing public health programs and recently voted to extend Medicaid Coverage to the state’s low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Current Issues Affecting Health in Illinois

Some young Illinoisans are uninsured at higher rates than others.

Many young adults in Illinois remain uninsured, and there are often significant race, gender, and socioeconomic gaps in who has access to coverage.

30 percent of young men are uninsured in Illinois compared to 20 percent of young women in the state.  Young African American and Hispanic adults are less likely to be insured than their white counterparts.  35 percent of young Black Illinoisans and 43 percent of young Hispanic/Latino Illinoisans ages 18 to 24 are uninsured compared to 18 percent of White Illinoisans in the same age range.

While the statewide rate of uninsurance for 18 to 34-year-olds is 25 percent, certain metropolitan areas suffer from above-average rates of uninsurance within their young adult populations:

  • Joliet: 29% of young adults uninsured
  • Chicago: 31% of young adults uninsured
  • Aurora: 31% of young adults uninsured
  • Rockford: 33% of young adults uninsured 

Lack of health insurance is linked to a number of troubling health outcomes.  Adults without health insurance are:

  • Less likely to receive clinical preventative services that could reduce premature death.
  • More likely to delay or forego visits to physicians and clinically effective therapies, including prescription medications.
  • More likely to be diagnosed with later stage cancers that could have been detected by a screening or by a visit to a clinician.
  • More likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.
  • More likely to suffer poorer health outcomes such as limitations in quality of life and premature death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. 


Additional Resources

Get Covered Illinois

Young Invincibles Illinois Health Care Factsheet – Health Care Reform in Illinois – What It Means for You

SEUI – The State of Healthcare in Illinois

Chronic Conditions, Communicable Diseases, and Mental Illness in Illinois

A number of Illinoisans suffer from chronic conditions, communicable diseases, and mental illness.

The percentage of adults in the state living with diabetes is on the rise, increasing by nearly 60 percent between 1995 and 2010.

In 2007, the Illinois population of people living with AIDS comprised 3.6 percent of the national total of people living with AIDS and was the eighth largest in the nation. 

Cardiovascular disease accounts for a third of all deaths in Illinois (over 30,000) and resulted in the loss of nearly 158,000 years of potential life in 2010. 

An estimated 7.7 percent of adults in Illinois (over 994,000 people) had severe mental illness during 2012.  Mental illness is also prevalent among youth in the Cook County juvenile justice system with 66 percent of young male inmates and 74 percent of young female inmates affected by mental illness. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Illinois and is responsible for more deaths in the state each year than AIDS, injuries, and homicides combined

Preventative measures such as screenings and follow-up visits are integral components of any effort to reduce mortality rates, decrease incidence of disability, and lower the costs of medical care.

What can the state of Illinois do to decrease the prevalence of these medical conditions among young adults?

Additional Resources

Center for Disease Control – Illinois Fact Sheet

Aids Foundation of Chicago – HIV/AIDS in Illinois

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Chicago

Some Illinois residents face high health insurance costs, many young Illinoisans may be eligible for programs and benefits that will help make health insurance cheaper.

The average premium for a single health insurance plan in Illinois rose from $3,692 in 2003 to $5,375 in 2011, an increase of 46 percent.  The average premium for a family health insurance plan also rose during this time, from $9,693 to $15,167, an increase of 56 percent.

In the past, many Illinoisans who lost their jobs had no other choice but to enter the individual insurance market, where they faced estimated premium increases of as much as 60 percent.  In 2010, Illinois had over 500,000 consumers in individual health plans.  A number of these individuals paid as much as $1,000 to $2,000 a month in insurance premiums. 

Before the Affordable Care Act, the deductibles (the amount consumers have to pay for actual medical care before the insurance company begins to pay) on some plans were as high as $10,000 for individuals and $30,000 for families.

As many as 267,000 of the state’s currently uninsured 18 to 34- year-olds could be eligible for Medicaid under Illinois’s 2014 Medicaid expansion, and more than 400,000 uninsured 18 to 34-year-olds could receive new tax credits to reduce the cost of health insurance through the health insurance marketplace. 

In Cook County, over 158,000 19 to 35-year-olds could be eligible for Medicaid.  An even greater number of these young people, 190,000, could qualify for tax credits to lower the cost of health insurance.  Although many young adults are eligible for these benefits, a large number remain unaware that they could qualify for financial assistance. 

Additional Resources

Illinois Department of Human Services

Application for Benefits Eligibility  (ABE)

Illinois Medicaid Moving Forward in 2014


Additional Resources

Illinois Department of Public Health – Health and Safety

Cook County Department of Public Health