With the March 31 Obamacare enrollment deadline fast approaching, one reality become inescapable: African-Americans are poised to gain the most from low-cost health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, but are lagging far behind in the number of people enrolled.
Health care experts and community advocates agree on the urgency of getting more black consumers enrolled, and the facts behind that deep concern are stark: African-Americans are 55 percent more likely to be uninsured than white Americans, and face a growing number of health and wellness disparities that cost lives and have endured for far too long.
Tragically, lacks have the highest cancer mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, but 18 percent less likely than whites to have it under control twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes suffer from an infant mortality rate that is more than twice that of whites, with black infants four times more likely than their white counterparts to perish due to complications related to low birth weight.
With the renewed focus on preventive and wellness that has come with Obamacare, African-Americans stand to gain much better health outcomes — if they would only enroll.
With weeks to go before the deadline, the statistics are troubling: according to data released last month by Covered California, blacks represented only 3.1 percent of Californians enrolled in , despite being close to seven percent of the state’s population. White Californians account for 54.7 percent of Obamacare enrollees, in the state.
“It is extremely important [to be educated on the benefits of Obamacare] because all you hear and you see in the media is the negative stuff,” said Frederick B. Young Jr., president of the Tri-City NAACP in Solano County, which is partnering with other organizations to rally more blacks to enroll. “You don’t see the positives.”
Yet, there are many. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, blacks are poised to benefit from Obamacare in a number of ways:
· More than 120,000 Black Californians will benefit from the dramatic expansion of Medi-Cal without having any expenses, according to the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. Many are unaware of this, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you are now eligible for Medi-Cal if you make less than $$16,104 as a single man or a woman or $32,913 as a family of four.Those earning less than $$46,680 as a single adult, or $95,400 for a family of four, will be eligible for subsidies when purchasing coverage through Covered California. Premiums cost no more than 10 percent of your income, with the government subsidizing the rest.
Nationally 7.3 million African Americans with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost sharing. This includes services such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.
Nationally an estimated 5.1 million African American women with private health insurance now have guaranteed access to women’s preventive services without cost sharing. These services include well-woman visits, HPV testing, counseling services, breastfeeding support, mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services.
Nationally 4.5 million elderly and disabled African Americans who receive health coverage from Medicare also have access to many preventive services with no cost-sharing, including annual wellness visits with personalized prevention plans, diabetes and colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and mammograms.
At www.coveredca.com, consumers can shop for, compare and obtain quality, low-cost health care plans and receive information about Medi-Cal enrollment. Those who would prefer to speak to a live person during the enrollment process can call (800) 300-1506.