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More insured patients than uninsured at Cook County health system

Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
by Monifa Thomas

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System may be thought of as one of those places where people go for health care only when they lack insurance. But for the last six months, the hospital has seen more patients with insurance than without it, the CEO of the hospitals system said today.

“For the first time in our history, our health system has now more insured patients than uninsured patients,” Dr. John Jay Shannon said Tuesday at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. “This is unheard of.”

Specifically, about 53 or 54 percent of Cook County Health and Hospitals System are registered for insurance, Shannon said.

“There’s been a shrinking of the self-pay population and the growth of the Medicaid population,” Shannon said after the luncheon. “It’s almost a one-to-one flip.”

The primary reason for that, he said, was the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, Cook County got a waiver to get an early start on that expansion, which allowed adults making less than roughly $15,860 to get Medicaid even if they didn’t have children or weren’t disabled.

More than 113,000 applications were submitted for CountyCare, the Medicaid insurance, between February 2013 and February 2014. Of those, more than 82,000 had been approved and about 18,000 are pending review, according to the Cook County health system.

Its goal is to have 150,000 enrollees by 2015.



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