Obamacare: Do Black Americans Know Enough About It?
African American rights groups pledge to increase knowledge of health care reforms
Despite House Republicans’ 33 attempts at repealing it last week, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.
By 2014, the law will require nearly all Americans to purchase health care insurance or face a tax penalty equal to some fraction of annual plan premiums.
That could be a hard pill to swallow, particularly in minority communities, where significant percentages of Americans are without healthcare coverage. According to government estimates, one in five African Americans is without healthcare coverage.
While the Obama administration has promised aggressive education campaigns in minority communities, some health advocacy groups aren’t leaving the job to the federal government.
“(The government) could do a little more in terms of educating the public,” said Aisha Hakim, former president of the Westchester County chapter of the National Black Nurses Association in New York state.
“You’d have to be living under a rock” to be unaware of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, said Hakim, adding that groups like hers are aggressively involved in church-run health ministries and tabling at local health fairs.
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Hakim, a veteran nurse of 38 years, says it’s yet to be seen if people of color really comprehend the information that is available about the ACA.
The tax penalty, which will be assessed by the IRS, is a minimum $695 per person (no more than $2,085 per family) by 2016, when the reforms are fully phased in, according to analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Public polling, before and after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA, shows just under half of Americans know the key provisions of the law. A Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, conducted two weeks ago, found that 41 percent of Americans were unaware that the Supreme Court even made a decision.
After the historic ruling, a senior Obama administration official said the White House expected an “all hands on deck” approach within the African American community, to ensure no one is without the available coverage or subjected to the penalty.
The heath care reforms were crafted to ensure no one with a pre-existing condition is denied coverage, nor dropped from his or her plan because they’ve reached an annual or lifetime care limit. If an individual cannot afford coverage or has a job that does not offer it, the government will incentivize states to step in and provide coverage at little to no cost initially.
Several high profile African American advocacy organizations have praised the court’s ruling and pledged to continue backing President Obama’s signature achievement: