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.
Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress have stalled, but court challenges remain, including a December 2018 decision by a judge that declared the ACA unconstitutional. The Diverse Elders Coalition is committed to raising awareness about the value of the Affordable Care Act to our communities and making sure that everyone in our communities who needs to access appropriate health care coverage is able to do so. Jennifer Goldberg of Justice in Aging wrote a powerful blog post about the ways that an ACA repeal will hurt vulnerable older adults. And Aaron Tax of SAGE shared the negative impact of an ACA repeal on the LGBT communities.
The 2020 ACA Open Enrollment period will run from November 1 – December 15, 2019 (though some states that manage their own insurance exchanges may have later deadlines). Stay tuned to the Diverse Elders Coalition blog for resources and outreach materials that will support your communities through open enrollment.
For more resources on the Affordable Care Act, see:
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 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.
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.