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What the Health Care Law Means for African Americans

The health care law provides several benefits to all Americans. Many of the benefits and protections in the health care law are particularly important for African Americans. By understanding what’s in the law, you can make better health care choices for you and your family.

Creates a new way to shop for health insurance 

  • The Health Insurance Marketplace makes it easier to compare health plans. If you don’t have insurance, you can find a plan that works for you and your family in the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state. All plans are listed in one place, so you can make apples-to-apples comparisons of benefits and prices. Help is available every step of the way. You can get your questions answered about finding a plan or completing the application in person, by phone or online.
  • Health plans must cover the essentials. Plans offered in the marketplace are required to cover important benefits, such as doctor visits, emergency care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, preventive care and more.
  • Everyone needs coverage. Starting in 2014, you’ll be required to have health coverage. If you don’t, you may have to pay a penalty. There are some exceptions, including people with a very low income.

Financial help is available  

  • There’s financial help to pay for health insurance. Depending on your income, you may be able to get financial help to cover some of the cost for health insurance you purchase through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Insurance plans are improved

  • Young adults can stay on their parents’ family plan. If you have children, they can stay on your family health insurance plan until they turn 26. Even if your child is in school, lives away from home or is married, as long as they are under age 26, they can stay covered.
  • You have more consumer protections. Health insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage, just because you have a preexisting condition such as diabetes, high-blood pressure or cancer. They can’t cut off your coverage or cancel your plan if you get sick or injured.
  • Your plan can’t put dollar limits on your care. In the past, health plans could place dollar limits on the care they would cover in a year or over your lifetime. Now, there are no more dollar limits on your covered care.
  • Get more preventive care. Diabetes and cholesterol screenings, mammograms and flu shots are all covered. So you can catch the little things before they turn into bigger problems.
  • The law strengthens Medicare. Wellness visits and more preventive care are now covered at no cost to you.
  • Prescription drug costs are lower. If you have Medicare Part D, and reach coverage gap, you get a discount of more than 55 percent on brand-name drugs or more than 35 percent on generic prescription drugs. How much you’ll pay out of pocket for each drug may vary depending on your Part D plan. The discounts will gradually increase until the coverage gap disappears in 2020.

Health disparities are reduced

The law works to eliminate the health disparities African Americans face. For example:

  • Funds research about health disparities
  • Promotes the racial and ethnic diversity of health care professionals
  • Invests in primary care professionals so more Americans have access to primary care
  • Expands community health programs to help manage chronic conditions such as diabetes

It’s time to learn more about the health care law. Go to

Updated August 2014

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