A Publication of WTVP

As the percentage of people in central Illinois without health insurance continues to rise, and fewer people visit the doctor due to costs, it is imperative to provide everyone the opportunity to access healthcare, dental care and prescription medications so they can achieve healthy lifestyles and thereby promote a healthy community.

With the economic downturn and increasing unemployment, the lack of health insurance coverage, or decreased coverage, is affecting families and individuals. In central Illinois, nearly 30,000 people do not have health insurance. In Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties, almost one-third of residents have not had a routine check-up in the past year, and an average of 7.5 percent of residents did not visit the doctor due to cost. Nationally, it is estimated that four out of 10 adults do not fill prescriptions, skip doses, cut their dosages in half to save money or struggle to pay for their medications.

Routine medical exams, health screenings and tests can identify problems early, creating a better chance for medical treatment. Since numerous health problems can be minimized when detected early by routine check-ups, access to early and continuous care is necessary to help individuals take the right steps towards living a longer, healthier life.

The Heart of Illinois United Way funds health programs at 18 of its partner agencies. These programs promote optimal health to at-risk populations and include health clinics, dental care, mental health services, exercise and therapy, home healthcare, substance abuse, services for the visually impaired and much more.

To help the uninsured and underinsured receive vital prescription medications, the Heart of Illinois United Way partnered with FamilyWize in 2009 to provide prescription discount cards to the community. Available at more than 75 local pharmacies, United Way partner agencies and at, the discount cards immediately lower the cost of medications by an average of 35 percent for those without insurance or who take medications not covered by their plan (including Medicaid and Medicare).

Since FamilyWize launched nationally, more than 1,000 United Ways in all 50 states have partnered with the nonprofit organization. Since 2009, there have been more than 8,300 prescription claims in central Illinois, resulting in $143,496 in savings—an increase of 60 percent over the 2010 total of $89,558.

Healthcare impacts all ages and affects an individual’s education and income. Healthier children miss fewer days of school. When a person is not healthy, it’s difficult to hold onto a job. That’s why the Heart of Illinois United Way continues to ensure that the people of central Illinois are able to have healthier lives, from birth to end-of-life care and everything in between. iBi