Improving the health of diverse elders through the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) plays a key role in improving the health of our nation. This monumental health reform law has expanded health coverage benefits including the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid expansion, new benefits for elders 65+ on Medicare, and a range of protections that make healthcare more accessible for older people of color, American Indian/Alaska Native elders, and LGBT elders.
As the ACA makes documented progress in covering vulnerable populations, the DEC is committed to raising awareness about the ACA and facilitating participation from the communities we serve.

Research shows that people of color, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and LGBT people deal with significant disparities in multiple areas related to physical and mental health. An older person’s poor health can represent the cumulative effect of experiencing a lifetime of discrimination. Without insurance, many people delay or forego care, which can exacerbate poor health. The ACA prevents health insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions or a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And new benefits for elders on Medicare improve access to preventive services and reduce prescription drug costs.

As of August 2015, nearly 90% of Americans have health insurance.

Click to download our flyer on ACA Open Enrollment and Diverse Elders

Click to download our flyer on ACA Open Enrollment and Diverse Elders

While more Americans are now insured, we have also seen the challenges faced by diverse older adults in accessing the benefits of the ACA. They range from lack of transportation to access in-person health navigators to not being IT savvy enough to enroll in insurance plans to linguistic barriers in understanding enrollment materials.

A new round of ACA enrollment will span from November 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. (American Indian/Alaska Native members of federally recognized tribes can enroll in the Marketplace any time of year and are not subject to this deadline.) At the Diverse Elders Coalition, we’re raising awareness about the Affordable Care Act and making sure that everyone in our communities who needs to access appropriate health care coverage is able to do so.

Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE): Information about SAGE’s work on health reform is here. LGBT resources for the Affordable Care Act can also be found at Out2Enroll.org.

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC): SEARAC’s Health Policy Resource Hub provides a wealth of resources on health care in Southeast Asian Communities. Their Policy Brief “Covering All of California” gives a detailed analysis of the implementation of health reform in California, including lessons learned and recommendations for policymakers. Additionally, SEARAC partners United Cambodian Community and Families in Good Health have provided some touching ACA enrollment stories for our Diverse Elders Stories Initiative.

National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA): NAPCA’s web site includes a number of resources around Medicare and the Affordable Care Act in English and a number of Asian languages.

National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA): NHCOA’s 2014 Report, Status of Hispanic Older Adults: Stories from the Field, includes information about the challenges Hispanic elders face in accessing health care. Their Navigator program supports local leaders provide bilingual assistance to the community to enroll in the Marketplace. Spanish language resources such as their web site and their Facebook page make sure these navigators are best able to help the elders they serve in the languages they speak.

National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA): NICOA’s web site provides information for American Indian/Alaska Native elders on a range of health care issues and about the Affordable Care Act.

For more information:

Download a copy of our flyer on open enrollment and the Affordable Care Act.

Browse our resources to learn more about the ACA and how it impacts diverse elders.

Share your story about accessing healthcare for our Diverse Elders Stories Initiative.