This week, we are celebrating the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Since the health care law took effect, people all across the country have been directly benefiting from the law. And many aspects of this law aim to reduce health disparities.
The health care law uses common sense rules to ensure that you and your family's insurance coverage will be there for you when you need it. It also ensures that you have the freedom to choose your physician and to take charge of your own health care.
The Affordable Care Act gives you the peace of mind that, soon, you will not be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, and that you will not be dropped from your insurance if you get sick. This means that people with chronic diseases and pre-existing conditions will no longer be at the mercy of insurance companies.
Starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition or gender. This is a key aspect of the law, and especially important for women. In the past, insurance companies have denied coverage to women because they were victims of domestic violence or had a C-section. They have also charged women up to 1.5 times higher premiums than men for the same coverage. Soon, they will no longer be able to do either.
I am particularly excited about the prevention benefits of the law. Most insurance plans are now required to cover recommended preventive services without a co-pay or deductible such as:
- Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests;
- Cancer screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies;
- Counseling for quitting smoking, losing weight, and reducing alcohol use;
- Routine vaccinations, such as the flu shot; and
- Well-child visits.
As a family doctor, too often have I seen patients put off preventive care even if they have insurance -- simply because they could not afford the co-pay.
Finally, starting in 2014, over 30 million uninsured Americans will gain health insurance -- a historic step in prevention and in the elimination of health disparities to ensure America's future as a healthy and fit nation.
You can read more on the Affordable Care Act benefits to African Americans, at Healthcare.gov.