This week marks the 50th anniversary of the momentous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where hundreds of thousands of Americans mobilized for equal rights. And, while our nation has made great strides in the 50 years since - much work remains to be done.
Disparities in health and health outcomes persist. Black and Latino Americans have a rate of uninsurance that is nearly three times as high as their White counterparts. Insurance coverage is strongly related to health outcomes, and because of this minority populations are more likely to have worse health outcomes.
But inequality today is not limited to race. Health disparities and a lack of affordable, quality health insurance also prevails among members of the LGBT community, women, young adults, and people with disabilities.
Factors vary by state, and here in New York we have been working hard to level the playing field in the health arena through implementation of our New York State of Health insurance marketplace. HCFANY and our fellow advocates, policymakers, and stakeholders have been working hard to make our insurance marketplace as consumer-friendly and affordable as possible. And while we are ecstatic at the results we are seeing, this is still a work in progress. It may not be the answer to health disparities in our state, it is at least a beginning.
Let this week be a reminder of Dr. King’s vision and of not just how far we have come since 1963, but also of how far we still need to go. Here at HCFANY, we will keep marching on. We hope you will too!
HCFANY launched a new campaign today to provide outreach and education to uninsured LGBT New Yorkers around the new health options that will soon be available via the New York State Health Benefit Exchange. While health statistics on LGBT populations are not yet widely collected (something we are pushing to change) experts estimate that 1 in 4 LGBT people in the state are uninsured.
The outreach campaign will be headed up by HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force to help prepare people for the health insurance choices they may need to make once enrollment on the Exchange opens on October 1st.
The campaign was kicked off by a press briefing hosted by the New York State Health Foundation to bring attention to the unique needs of LGBT New Yorkers, illustrate how the Affordable Care Act is working to address them, and to lay out next steps.
- Kellan Baker, Director, LGBT State Exchanges Project, Center for American Progress
- Megan Fisk, Director of Family Services, LGBT Community Services Center of New York
- Mark Hannay, Director, Metro New York Health Care For All Campaign
- Jonathan Lang, Director of Governmental Projects and Community
Development, Empire State Pride Agenda
- Jay Laudato, Executive Director, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
- David Sandman, Senior Vice President, New York State Health Foundation
- Lois Uttley, Director, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need
The new coverage options afforded by the ACA will benefit LGBT communities by providing wider access to affordable health care, increased data collection (which will work to inform future policy decisions), and a new ban on discrimination based on HIV status and sex, including gender identity.
The LGBT Task Force has been working with state Exchange officials to make sure that same-sex couples have the same opportunities for affordable health coverage. This includes allowing couples to pool their premium subsidies together to purchase family health plans on the Exchange.
Outreach will start at the June 30 PrideFest in Manhattan, and continue through the summer and fall.
[***WARNING*** THIS SONG WILL GET STUCK IN YOUR HEAD]
How clever is this? The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum has made an educational video on the ACA and open enrollment via the Exchange that plays off of the extremely popular and infectious K-pop single “Gangnam Style” by PSY.
It’s almost as goofy as the original (it even has a dancing baby!), which is great, because it gets people’s attention. This is what we want! Anything that makes “open enrollment” and “October 1st” stick into people’s heads is a good thing. It also introduces the concept of the Exchange as an online marketplace for affordable insurance.
Check it out when you get a moment! I am hoping to see and blog about many more of these types of creative PSA’s around the ACA and the push for Open Enrollment in the coming months. Hopefully this video inspires more advocates to get creative!
RWV’s New York intern, Nina Nnamani, shares what she learned about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has improved her health insurance coverage.
As a woman in her early 20s, I am among those who benefit most from the health care law. I am in my first year of graduate school and have a lot of things on my “worry list” – assignments that must be turned in, rent that is due, loans that must be paid back and more. However, thanks to the new health care law, affording co-pays for key preventive care isn’t one of my worries.
Under the law, all new insurance plans must cover key preventive care for women without copays. This means that care like birth control or screenings for sexually transmitted infections are provided at no extra cost.
I knew this provision applied to plans starting after August 2012, and that many women would see the changes go into effect in January 2013 (when many new plan years start). But, I didn’t know whether my plan was complying and whether I’d begin seeing coverage without co-pays too.
Well, I checked, and it does! This is the first year that I will be able to get this key preventive care without paying for extra costs. This helps me stay healthy while on a student budget, and allows me to cross one more thing off of my “worry list.”
This provision of the health care law applies to all new plans starting on or after August 2012 (with an exemption for certain religious institutions). Check to see if you are covered too! Ask these questions to find out whether your plan is complying.
HAPPY VALENTINE‘S DAY!