Guest Post: Elizabeth’s Story Highlights Why Latinos Should Get Health Insurance

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10955748_775166475898679_3238404786855971006_nAuthor: Elizabeth Perez, Public Health Advisor, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), Office of Communications

I used to take everyday mobility for granted until I injured my left knee while playing sports in college. I needed surgery in order to return to my normal activity level. Thankfully, I had health insurance, which helped cover the cost of pre-operation doctor appointments, as well as my surgery costs. Nine months after my surgery, I was told that, even though I went through all the proper channels, my health insurance had rescinded my coverage. In essence, the health insurance company took back the payment they had made to the surgeon and the hospital; leaving me stuck with a bill that I couldn’t pay.

9526401394_6850d867e0_o-535x1024Up until a few years ago, health insurance companies were able to arbitrarily cancel or rescind coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new consumer protections are now in place to safeguard individuals from experiencing frivolous and unexpected cancellations. There are millions of Americans who don’t have coverage, and they are often our relatives and neighbors; our primos, tías, and tíos.

One of the best ways to have good health is to ensure you and your familia have access to health insurance so that you can regularly see a healthcare provider. We are asking individuals across the nation to have a conversation with their primos, tías, and tíos about their health, and to make sure that their familia is enrolled in health coverage by the February 15th deadline.

The Affordable Care Act has not only expanded eligibility for health coverage, but also the services that are included in the coverage, including behavioral health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions have gained access to new options for health care coverage for 2015. Yet, Latinos remain the largest uninsured population in the United States.

I have been fortunate enough to have the background and knowledge required to navigate the complicated health care system. However, many individuals within the Latino community continue to experience barriers to obtaining healthcare coverage and services. Some of those barriers include language access issues such as, diversity of regional Spanish dialects, limited health literacy skills, linguistic isolation, and fear and misconceptions about the healthcare law – all of which are real concerns. Additionally, there are many misperceptions about behavioral health in the Latino community that can prevent people from seeking services.

Outreach and enrollment strategies remain critical to the effort to link community members with the important health services (including behavioral health) they need. Local Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators or other assisters, are also trained to help with the application and enrollment process. Working together helps ensure every American has access to the quality, affordable health care services.

The gift of good health goes a long way. Visit HealthCare.gov to see what options are available for you and your family.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog is part of a series of webinars, infographics, and blog posts that aim to provide clear information about the Affordable Care Act. A slightly different version first appeared on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

 

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