Aiming To Improve Health Care Accessibility

Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez, Multi-Cultural Strategy & Public Engagement at AARPEveryone wants and needs health coverage, but it’s expensive to pay for it out-of-pocket and not every employer offers it.

Among Latinos there are significant challenges to maintaining good health. For example, many breadwinners work in construction and other hazardous industries, but their employment frequently doesn’t include health insurance or other benefits. Despite growing recognition of increasing longevity, Latinos have a greater tendency toward certain health conditions than other segments of the population. Add to these issues obstacles such as language barriers, cultural differences and lack of cultural competence among providers and suddenly gaining access to health care can seem insurmountable.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) aims to improve accessibility to health care for everyone regardless of their circumstances, thereby improving the health of the entire nation. Now that it has become law – though parts of it go into effect gradually over the next several years – many people still aren’t aware of the benefits available to them and how ACA affects their lives.

As an organization focused on enhancing the lives of people 50 and older and their families, AARP pushed strongly for elements of the law, which are now in place, which would provide the greatest benefit to older people. Because of ACA:

· People age 65 or older have access to free preventive care services through Medicare, like mammograms and colonoscopies;

· Seniors struggling to pay for prescription drugs get additional help;

· Older people can’t be charged exorbitantly higher rates for the same level of health coverage provided to younger people at lower rates; and

· Aggressive action against waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare is already saving taxpayer dollars and will save millions more in the future.

The AARP Health Law Guide can be found at www.aarp.org/healthlawguide or www.aarp.org/guiadelaleydesalud. Learn more about the ACA. Make informed choices about healthcare and help your family live healthier.

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