Last week, the federal government, for the first time, announced far-reaching regulations banning discrimination in health care. With this historic action, the government is prohibiting discrimination in the provision of health care services based on sex and gender identity. The new regulations announced by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also expand existing discrimination bans on the basis of disability or health status, race, national origin, age, or language spoken.
Communities of color face significant health disparities and are more likely to suffer from certain chronic conditions, like diabetes, where early detection and treatment could mean the difference between life and death. One way to improve the odds for people with these conditions is to increase access to services, like necessary medications or periodic medical tests, that prevent the progression of, or complications from, those diseases.
Unfortunately for many lower-income consumers with high-deductible health insurance plans, the out-of-pocket expense of this essential care is well beyond their financial reach, causing them to forgo care.
With last month’s Supreme Court ruling affirming that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here to stay, advocates and decisionmakers can turn to building on the law’s success, such as closing the Medicaid gap, improving the value of care, and eliminating the “family glitch.” Another top priority in this next phase of health reform is making good on the promise of health care for all, regardless of immigration status. Last month, California, the state with the most undocumented immigrants, took a momentous leap in that direction.
Earlier this month, health equity advocates received an unexpected surprise when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new county-level enrollment data by race and ethnicity from the 37 states that use the federal health insurance marketplace. This level of data had never before been made available to the public.
If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs who brought the case, an estimated 6.4 million moderate-income people would lose premium tax credits. Without these subsidies, many people will simply be unable to afford to purchase health insurance.
The activity around payment and system reform creates an opportunity to develop interventions that directly address racial and ethnic health disparities. However, some reforms could inadvertently make disparities worse. For example, they could discourage providers from treating sicker, more complex patients, or undermine the financial viability of struggling safety net providers.
Fortunately, some communities are implementing delivery system reforms that reduce health disparities and bend the cost curve. The effective models we describe in this blog series share several features in common.
Across the country, there is tremendous momentum to change how health care is delivered and paid for in order to improve quality and to curb costs. These initiatives to transform the health system have the potential to improve care for everyone, and could directly address health disparities. Advocates must actively engage in these reform efforts—both to protect communities of color from harm and to take maximum advantage of opportunities to transform health care delivery to better serve people of color.
In the second open enrollment period that just ended, one million more people of color signed up for marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act than enrolled during the first year. This achievement is thanks in large part to the more than 20,000 thousand navigators and assisters around the country who offered in-person assistance in communities of color. But we’re far from achieving equity when it comes to health coverage. Here we share recommendations to make improving enrollment efforts in communities of color a priority.
Health care advocates across the nation are celebrating the milestone of nearly 11.7 million Americans gaining health insurance through the second open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, the latest enrollment numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have led some to characterize enrollment of communities of color as “lagging.” What is getting less attention is the new HHS data showing a huge reduction in the disproportionately high rates of uninsured people of color.
In communities of color, where rates of uninsurance and poor health outcomes are higher than in white communities, the differences between those who have insurance and those who lack it are stark.