Advocates of the Affordable Care Act have been working for more than a year to encourage members of the LGBT community to get insured under the health-care law. But now, the Illinois health insurance marketplace is taking that appeal to the airwaves -- during the Golden Globes, no less.
This weekend Get Covered Illinois is launching an ad specifically aimed at letting same-sex, married couples know they can enroll in health plans in the same way a heterosexual couple could.
In the ad, Illinois residents Jake and Allen -- a real couple who are friend's with the commercial's director, Quriosity Productions' David Gil -- recount how their relationship developed.
"We leveled up: stranger to boyfriend to civil union to a marriage," Jake recalls. "In Illinois we can enroll in affordable care together. The sign-up process took minutes, and after being uninsured for years, I had appendicitis."
"Having affordable care was sincerely a life-saving moment,"Jake adds.
The ad, which ran during prime time in Chicago Friday night and will be running in different markets throughout the state, is part of a broader "National LGBT Outreach and Enrollment Week" effort the Obama administration and its allies are launching Monday. Out2Enroll, a collaboration among the Center for American Progress, Federal Agencies Project and Sellers Dorsey Foundation, will be holding events throughout the country in an attempt to make further inroads among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Get Covered Illinois Executive Director Jennifer Koehler said in an interview Friday the exchange decided to launch the ad because "we're in a really historic time in Illinois." The state legalized civil unions in 2011 and same-sex marriage two years later, though that law didn't take effect until June 2014.
"We’re making sure all families across Illinois understand what their new benefits are, what their new options are under the Affordable Care Act," Koehler said.
Nationally, LGBT advocates will be touting a new Health and Human Services policy that took effect Jan. 1, which states that legally married same-sex couples have access to the same plans a straight couple would in every state, even if the state doesn't recognize the couple's marriage. Out2Enroll has also launched a new Web tool during the law's second enrollment period where individuals can put in their zip code and identify trained LGBT-friendly assisters in their region.
Recent research from CAP shows the uninsured rate among low- and middle-income LGBT people who are potentially eligible for federal subsidies declined by almost a quarter between 2013 and 2014, from 34 percent to 26 percent uninsured.
And why did Illinois health officials pick the Golden Globes -- that most Hollywood of events -- to showcase their new ad?
"It’s a high-profile awards show with high viewership," Koehler said. "We think it will go a long way toward raising awareness."