Slightly more than 67,000 Illinois residents completed applications for health insurance through the newly created health insurance marketplace in October and November, according to the Department of Health and Human Services December Marketplace Enrollment Report. More than 7,000 completed enrollment by selecting a health plan.

These are not robust figures when compared to the state’s goal of covering 300,000 of its approximately 1.8 million uninsured citizens during the initial open enrollment period, which runs October 1 through March 31, 2014. Technical problems with the federal website during October and November may, in part, be responsible for the low figures.

“These numbers show the federal website has improved,” said Get Covered Illinois Executive Director Jennifer Koehler in a December 11 news release. “But there is still more work to do.”

Illinois is operating its own exchange, Get Covered Illinois, in partnership with the federal government. Residents seeking health insurance may use the state website as a portal to the health insurance marketplace, and the site will direct them to the federal site or to the state’s Medicaid page, depending on individual applicants’ eligibility. Illinois hopes to fully run its own exchange beginning in 2015.

An additional 30,446 applicants have been determined eligible for the newly expanded Medicaid program. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 700,000 adults in the state will be eligible for Medicaid with the program expansion.

The state has been actively promoting the health care exchange with numerous outreach and educational events being held across the state. A “Cover Your Community” initiative, held on November 2, attracted several thousand attendees at nearly 200 sites to learn more about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Several hundred outreach and educational events took place on December 18 at community health centers and government agencies across the state.

A million-dollar television ad campaign, launched by Get Covered Illinois on December 13, is designed to raise awareness of the new law and encourage the uninsured to enroll in a health plan at Get Covered Illinois. The ad campaign, produced in English and Spanish, highlights the inclusive nature of health care in the state and emphasizes the importance of having health insurance.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans must have health insurance by April 1, 2014 to avoid a penalty. Consumers that seek insurance effective January 1, 2014 have until December 23 to enroll in a plan. Open enrollment continues through March 31, 2014.

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Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on