U.S. Touts Benefits of Health Law for African-Americans

Karen Bouffard, The Detroit News, December 10, 2013

A Detroit family of four with an income of $50,000 a year could buy insurance at healthcare.gov for as little as $126 a month after subsidies, the U.S. government announced Monday as part of a report on how federal health care reform impacts African-Americans.

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The federal Affordable Care Act is intended to add millions of Americans to the ranks of the insured by providing government subsidies to help pay for premiums. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued its report Monday to show how the law will address a disparity of health coverage that exists for African-Americans.

Six out of 10 uninsured African-Americans who may be eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or tax credits to help with premium costs, according to the report.

“Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, 6.8 million uninsured African-Americans have new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs,” Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a press release.

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[Editor’s Note: Here is the full press release:

According to a new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services, six out of ten (4.2 million) uninsured African Americans who may be eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums. If all states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of uninsured African Americans who may be eligible for the Marketplace might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums.

“The health care law is working to address long standing disparities in health care coverage and improve the health of the African American community,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, 6.8 million uninsured African Americans have new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs.“

Today’s report also details uninsurance rates by state and provides several examples of what premiums might look like for African Americans living in major metropolitan areas. One fifth of uninsured African American citizens and permanent residents live the greater Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Detroit metropolitan areas. A 27-year-old in Atlanta with an income of $25,000 can pay as little as $105 a month for a bronze plan after applying the tax credit, while a family of four with an income of $50,000 could pay $148 a month for a bronze plan after applying the tax credit.

Nationwide, about 2 million uninsured African Americans may be eligible for coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

States have new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to include Americans with family incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (generally $31,322 for a family of four in 2013). This expansion includes adults without dependent children living at home, who have not previously been eligible in most states.

An additional 2.2 million eligible uninsured African American adults with family incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level live in states that are not expanding Medicaid. The number of uninsured African Americans who may be eligible for access to health coverage at a lower cost would increase from 60 to 95 percent if all states adopted the Medicaid expansion.

To read today’s report, visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/UninsuredAfricanAmericans/ib_UninsuredAfricanAmericans.cfm].

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