Starting Saturday, people have a chance to sign up for health care in Illinois if you haven't already.
It's open enrollment for Get Covered Illinois.
The number of uninsured residents in our region has gone down.
Both Winnebago and Stephenson counties now have roughly 10-11 percent of its people without insurance, but officials hope that last remaining 10 percent will get some sort of coverage this year.
"If you don't have health insurance you may be missing out on possible health care you need to save yourself or a loved one's life by not getting access to coverage. Because you are not seeing a doctor regularly and are not taking preventative measures, you are shortening your life span." Winnebago County In-person Counselor Grant Coordinator, Juliana Barker, said.
Barker say's living without life insurance is a big risk.
"Even if you have bad health insurance, it's better than no health insurance."
Barker helps head Winnebago county's first affordable care act consulting center.
She's says educating those remaining uninsured is its mission even if it doesn't mean signing up for Get Covered Illinois.
Like Winnebago Country, Stephenson County has made gains in getting more people insured, but there's still work to do.
Just getting people in the door will help.
"This is a way of shopping for comparative prices. You can take a look and see if it's something that you want," Northwest Illinois ACA Regional Manager, Janet Vrtol said.
According to Stephenson County health department officials, three main groups are hesitating to get insured.
These groups include African Americans, Latino's and millennials.
She says these groups aren't signing up for a variety of reasons.
Some feel it is something they don't need and for other's, the process is foreign.
Lack of computer skills could be a factor as well, but bottom line, officials say education will be key to getting more people insured.
For more information on options and deadlines, click here: https://getcoveredillinois.gov/