How low-income people in Illinois can enroll under the new Affordable Care Act

Get Covered IllinoisStarting Oct. 1, as a part of the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” more low-income adults across the U.S. are now eligible for Medicaid, a government health insurance program.

In Illinois, people will be able to enroll in Medicaid through “ABE,” a new easy-to-use website administered by the state of Illinois. Using ABE, individuals experiencing homelessness will be able to access vital healthcare services that have the potential to curb further homelessness. 

Who is Eligible?

  • All Illinois residents, ages 19-64, with incomes below 138% of the poverty line are now eligible for Medicaid. See income table below.
  • Former foster children are eligible regardless of income, until age 26.
  • Applicants are no longer required to be disabled, blind, elderly, children, or parents.
  • Applicants must be residents of Illinois; while lawfully residing non-citizens are eligible if they have lived in Illinois for more than five years. Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for Medicaid, except in an emergency.

Income Limits for Medicaid

Individual:                              $15,856 a year / $1,321 a month

2-Person Family:                  $21,404 a year / $1,783 a month

4-Person Family:                  $32,500 a year / $2,708 a month

Steps For Applying for Medicaid

  1. Visit
  2. The ABE online application will ask applicants a series of questions about their income, family size, and residency in order to determine their eligibility.
  3. Applicants will only be required to provide their Social Security number, although they may be asked to provide additional documents as well.
  4. ABE will use the applicant’s Social Security number to access an applicant’s information that has been previously submitted to other government agencies, to verify the accuracy of their answers to the initial questions.
  5. Applicants will be given the opportunity to scan and upload other documents to support the answers they gave in their application. For example: A person experiencing homelessness may submit a letter from a local shelter stating that they are residing there.
  6. ABE will ask applicants for additional documents by mail if there is a discrepancy between their answers to questions and the information pulled from other sources. This process may significantly delay the application process. Therefore, an applicant can help speed up the process by choosing to provide supporting documents when they first apply.


Steps for applying to either Medicaid or the Illinois Health Marketplace:

A “client facing” landing page is also available that directs customers either to apply for Medicaid, or for those with higher incomes, to purchase coverage through the Illinois Health Marketplace. This is accessed at


If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and would like more information about new health insurance options, or would like assistance applying: Call or email Equal Justice Works attorney Graham Bowman at the CCH Law Project, at or phone (800) 940-1119 or (312) 641-4140.