Health

Our Policy Statement

Access to healthcare is the key to ensuring Illinoisans can lead healthy lives. Receiving healthcare early in life and throughout adulthood is an important way to prevent obesity and chronic diseases that are becoming more prevalent today.

To ensure families and individuals are able to live healthy lives, United Way will:

Health-Related Research

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought important advances in health coverage for women. They include mandatory maternity care, coverage without cost sharing for preventive services such as contraception and the end to charging women more than men for the same plan. These provisions were designed to close gaps and address inequities in women’s health insurance.

The Foundation’s report, Women and Health Care in the Early Years of the ACA: Key Findings from the 2013 Kaiser Women's Health Survey, says the ACA is expected to provide access to coverage to millions of uninsured women, now representing 1 in 5 women aged 18-64. Low-income and minority women would benefit the most. The ACA also is expected to address cost-related barriers to health care, as 1 in 4 women reported delaying or forgoing care compared with 1 in 5 men.

In addition to coverage, access and affordability, the report looks at women’s connections to health providers and use of preventive care. Based on an analysis of a nationally representative sample of 2,907 women ages 18 to 64, the report provides a baseline against which to compare outcomes in the coming years. As noted in the report, “Understanding the law’s myriad impacts on women’s health and access to care will take many years.”

Voices for Illinois Children

Voice’s annual report, Kids Count 2014: Child Health Matters, identifies several positive trends in children’s health: fewer children without health insurance, declining infant mortality rates, fewer young children with lead poisoning, and fewer teen deaths from accidents, homicide or suicide.

Yet, at the same time, health disparities exist in relation to household income level, race and ethnicity, special health care needs, and other factors. A broad set of policy strategies is needed to reduce these disparities, according to the report’s authors. These strategies include:

“Reducing health disparities is imperative for improving the lives of children and their families and for building a better future for the state as a whole,” the report says.

Prevention Institute

The Affordable Care Act, with its focus on prevention, has helped shift the focus in health care from disease management to disease prevention. Demographic changes also are having an impact as attention is turning to strategies that promote and protect health equity.

The Institute’s report, Towards a 21st Century Approach: Advancing a Vision for Prevention and Public Health, notes that “rates of preventable chronic disease and injury remain unacceptably high. Poor health—and its costs—has impacts across society, interfering with children’s learning and business productivity. Healthcare costs are a major drain on public and private sector budgets and a key contributor of debt.”

With the goal of more fully achieving the promise of healthy, safe and equitable communities, the Institute performed a comprehensive national landscape analysis based on in-depth interviews with more than 50 national, state and community experts and leaders.