By Jennifer Ng'andu, Director, Health and Civil Rights Policy Project, NCLR
In Spanish, the phrase cuidaté tells someone "to take care of yourself" It also lets them know you care for them. In the 2.5 years since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a number of the law's measures have been implemented to provide the same message. These measures have quite simply improved the health care experience for millions of Americans, including insured and uninsured Latinos.
Even so, these welcome changes are only preludes to the most significant developments of the Affordable Care Act.
October 1 marks the next big date for the new law, and one that is critically important for Latino families. On that date, health insurance marketplaces start accepting new enrollees for health insurance plans. Many Latinos are working hard at jobs where health insurance is not offered or too expensive to buy. Indeed, even with high workforce participation rates, Latinos are the least likely racial or ethnic group to be offered coverage through their employer -- making it harder to get their hands on options for health care. The health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, are among the first new options for Latinos and other Americans who have had nowhere else to go for health coverage.
October also marks the first time so many Latinos will have the power to begin taking care of their health care needs. It represents a moment of shared responsibility when Americans will join their government and their employers to make health care better for us all. Spreading the news about the potential benefits of the exchanges is critical because far too few individuals know that they will get the chance to access more affordable, private health insurance plans. But misinformation campaigns are on the rise--and they prey on the fears of communities.
So, if you're tired of the myths, get straight to the facts about the ACA. Here are a few things you can do in preparation for October 1:
If we don't create awareness about the benefits of the law, we will stifle opportunities for millions of Latinos who have already been shut out of health care for far too long.
This was first posted to the NCLR Blog.
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