HEALTH DIVA: Why the Affordable Care Act Is So Important for African AmericansBy Dr. Janna Andrews | February 6, 2014 | Entertainment, Get Fit
Our Health Diva Dr. Janna Andrews on why the Affordable Care Act is a win for African Americans.
The Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010, has been in full effect since January 1, 2014. Designed to provide health care to the entire nation, this act is particularly important for African Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, African Americans suffer from higher rates of a range of illnesses as compared to the general population, including the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined.
Even though the rate of breast cancer incidence is 10 percent lower among African American women, they are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease. However, African-Americans are 55 percent more likely to be uninsured than white Americans.
As an oncologist, I see the Affordable Care Act as a win for my patients who don’t have to be worried about being unceremoniously dropped from their insurance companies for having a diagnosis of cancer. Nearly 6.8 million uninsured African Americans now have opportunities for affordable health insurance coverage.
Through the Marketplace, the website that starts Americans on their journey to healthcare, consumers may be eligible for free or low cost coverage, or advance premium tax credits that lower monthly premiums right away. The states have new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to include Americans with family incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (generally $31,322 for a family of four in 2013). This expansion includes adults without dependent children living at home, which has not previously been eligible in most states.
Some of the other key benefits of the ACA include:
- Preventing lifetime limits or annual limits.
- Kids can be covered on their parents insurance until they are 26.
- Requirement of essential health benefits like prescription drug coverage, maternity and newborn care, preventive medicine and emergency care.
Still haven’t jumped on the healthcare bandwagon? Just head over to the Marketplace and pick your state or municipality. You can create an account, apply for tax credit eligibility, pick a plan that suits your lifestyle and enroll. Remember, there is a fine in place if you DO NOT get healthcare. It’s 1 percent of your income or $95 per adult, (whichever is higher) in 2014, and will increase to 2.5 percent of income, or $695 per adult, by 2016.
I’m excited to see how the new Affordable Care Act affects the level of patients I see in my office. With affordable health care now available to all, I am hoping that African Americans, women and others who avoided medical attention due to the prohibitive cost will no longer be an issue, and we can create a healthier USA.