This April, we are recognizing Minority Health Month. As health care advocates, we know that minorities are more likely to experience barriers when trying to access care. Getting the care you need when you need it is not too much to ask. Minority Health Month is a good time to remind us all that health disparities still exist.
The problem is serious — minorities experience barriers to accessing care, increased presence of chronic diseases, have been less likely to get preventive care and are more likely to see worse health outcomes. The good news is that Obamacare will help minority communities get the care they need, when they need it by funding research on health disparities, expanding coverage to more people, and providing copay-free preventive care.
- Through Obamacare millions more Americans can access critical preventive services without cost-sharing. As Melanie Herrera-Bortz pointed out in this guest blog last year, “both Latinos and African Americans have higher rates of HIV/ AIDS, diabetes, and cancer compared to Whites, and are less likely to have access to live-saving preventive care measures like mammograms and other cancer screenings.” Increasing access to preventive care will help close these gaps.
- Over the next five years, the Affordable Care Act provides $11 billion in funding for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers across the country. Currently, Colorado has 15 federally funded health care centers that serve about 160,000 patients, 60% of whom are people of color.
- Obamacare invests in identifying disparities and collecting data on them. Consistent methods for collecting and reporting this health data will help reduce the causes of health problems in underserved populations.
- On October 1, 2013 the new Health Insurance Marketplace will be open for business. Colorado’s marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, is on target to begin enrolling people into plans on October 1. People with incomes of up to 400% Federal Poverty Level, or $45,960 for an individual, will be eligible for tax subsidies to purchase health insurance.
Decisions about your healthcare are too important to be left to others. The Affordable Care Act expands and improves coverage, so that all Americans, including minority communities, can take control of their health. That said, it is important to take this month to learn more about the health disparities that do exist and what we can do in our communities to help. To learn more visit www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.