Illinois' Cook County launches program to assist uninsured: 5 things to know

Uninsured individuals in Illinois' Cook County will receive increased healthcare assistance following the county board's Wednesday approval of an ordinance to create a health expansion program, the Chicago Tribune reports.  

Here are five things to know about the program.

1. Under the approved ordinance, in 2017 the program will help nearly 40,000 Cook County residents receive primary care physicians in the county's Health and Hospitals System.

2. Next year, the county plans to spend $2 million on the program's initial operations.

3. Uninsured residents making $48,000 per year for a family of four will qualify for the program. Participants cannot be eligible for Medicaid. In 2017, participants will also be limited to individuals enrolled in Cook County Health and Hospitals System's CareLink financial assistance program.

4. Patients can present a membership card to receive care at Chicago-based John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital, Chicago-based Provident Hospital and more than a dozen clinics, according to the report. Care will be offered at no cost save for co-pays for dental services and prescriptions. Co-pays would not be more than a few dollars.

5. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said a third of the county's health system patients are uninsured, accounting for $400 million in uncompensated care last year. Recent U.S. Census data found 900,000 people in Illinois lack health insurance.   

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