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The Affordable Care Act: Why Should Black America care about the Act

Wilbert Jones helps local residents sign up for the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as "Obamacare", outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. Mississippi is one of at least 20 states that has decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR3FLYR

The landscape of Health Care has changed with the arrival of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in this country  is providing medical services for a large population of people that never had an option for insurance. Therefore Black Americans awareness of (ACA) and how to be better prepared for future enrollments is very important in obtaining Health Insurance. The Affordable Care Act is a comprehensive health care reform law that was enacted in March 2010. Under the Affordable Act, also known as the ACA, most Americans are required to have health insurance.

Black America should care about the (ACA) because essential health benefits are offered covering 10 categories: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

Medicaid has expanded providing Health care for little to nothing financially for millions of low resourced persons without coverage. The ACA also provides financial assistance for those who qualify for the Marketplace. There is an individual mandate penalty for not having medical insurance 3% for 2016 an estimate of $650 or more per person in household without Health insurance. For persons unable to buy health insurance hardship exemptions are available. Consumers are responsible for providing evidence of Health Insurance when completing taxes i.e. letter from Medicaid or Health Insurance plan indicating coverage.

The ACA if disbanded or repealed would have long-lasting impact on vulnerable people in society that are low resourced. Without the ACA Blacks would go back to using the Emergency Room (ER) for primary care needs and continue to pile up medical bills. Black America is in need of improving personal Health care and changing habits to live more active lives and showcasing to future generations ways to enhance personal being.

Black consumers with limited education face two issues in obtaining Health Care insurance: limited literacy and low income status requiring specialized services in understanding Health insurance literacy and technology resources on what it means to enroll in Health Insurance programs utilizing the Marketplace website.

Help is available for Blacks who need in-person assistance or help over the phone by contacting 1-800-318-2596. Navigators and Certified Application Counselors (CAC’s) engage with local organizations, businesses and entities providing assistance to consumers.

The open Enrollment period is over, but you may still be able to enroll through a special enrollment at ( Medicaid does not have an open enrollment period therefore consumers can apply all year around.

The Health Insurance Marketplace a resource where individuals, families, and small businesses can learn about their health insurance options, compare health insurance plans based on costs, benefits, and other important features, choose a plan, and enroll for health coverage.

Consumers must report any life changes while receiving Medicaid or Marketplace insurance i.e. marriage, death of spouse, address change, increase or decrease income. Life changes must be reported as it impacts the financial assistance provided. Life changes that are not reported will result in individual penalties by the consumers.

Gloria D. Mullons

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