During the month of January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) recognizes Poverty Awareness Month. Although the number of Americans living in poverty fell to 10.5% in 2019, a new low of 34 million people, minorities are still overrepresented in poverty rates, with Black (18.8%) and Hispanic (15.7%) Americans shown to have poverty rates that were more than twice that of White Americans (7.3%). Further, those experiencing poverty are now also facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021. There is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Inequities in the social determinants of health, such as poverty and health care access, affecting these groups are interrelated and influence a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.
Poverty is known to play a role in health outcomes, with those living in poverty having an increased risk of chronic conditions, lower life expectancy and barriers to receiving quality health care. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by the chronic conditions that can be exacerbated by poverty.
Poverty Awareness Month offers an opportunity for CMS OMH to further its goal of ensuring quality health care for all Americans. CMS and other federal programs offer a variety of resources to help vulnerable populations learn how to access their health coverage, manage health care costs, and fully utilize their benefits. Below is a list of resources that providers can share with their patients:
- View the From Coverage to Care Roadmap to Better Care and a Healthier You to help others better understand their health coverage and how to use it to access primary care and preventive services.
- Review the Manage Your Health Care Costs (PDF) to better understand health insurance costs and terms, know specific health insurance costs, plan for health care costs, and know how to pay premiums.
- Read the C2C Prevention Resources to learn more about preventive services that are available to adults, teens, children, and infants, with many available at no cost under most health coverage.
- Review eligibility requirements for Medicaid in your state as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal and state program that provides health coverage to children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low for private coverage.
- Visit the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) webpage to learn how this program helps to meet the health care needs of the elderly in their own communities.
- View the Medicare Savings Program webpage to learn how members in your community can get extra help from their state.
- Learn more about the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI), which benefits people ages 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.
- Help your community learn more about how the Administration for Children and Families Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is helping to assist households meet important expenses like heating and food.