November is Native American Heritage Month, a time for the country to remember and honor the histories, contributions, and struggles of the 566 federally recognized tribes and the 5.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) living in the United States. November is also the first month of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 2016 marketplace coverage. While the federal government is obligated to provide health care to Native Americans through the Indian Health Service (IHS), this blog explains why getting marketplace coverage is a good idea for many AI/AN consumers.
During Hispanic Heritage Month we recognize the various contributions of our nation’s largest minority group and celebrate how far Latinos have advanced. This month is also a time to reflect on the fact that too many Latino communities lack the opportunities to live safe and healthy lives that are the foundation for building a strong, self-sufficient future. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping more Hispanics obtain health insurance than ever before.
This week is National Mental Illness Awareness Week, and on October 10, health advocates around the world will observe World Mental Health Day. These events draw attention to the prevalence of behavioral health conditions and seek to combat the stigma that surrounds them. Communities of color in the United States face significant mental health disparities and greater barriers in getting the treatment they need. Fortunately, one way the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is improving the health care system is by requiring most health plans to offer free depression screenings as a preventive health service.
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.