How the Affordable Care Act Is Helping Men
Lead Healthier Lives & Afford Health Insurance
How the Affordable Care Act Is Helping Men Lead Healthier Lives & Afford Health Insurance
June is the start of summer, when Americans take advantage of many seasonal activities. It’s also a time to celebrate Father’s Day and National Men’s Health Week (June 10-16, 2013). This awareness week is the perfect time for fathers, and all men, to reflect on their health and to talk to a health care provider to ensure that they are up to date with recommended screenings.
Historically, men tend to have higher rates of many chronic conditions including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and they die at younger ages than women.1 This is particularly true for men of color. Getting recommended preventive services is an important way to identify risk factors early for disease and illness and take steps to improve your health. For men of color, this is particularly important because they are disproportionately affected by health conditions such as cancer and strokes.
Going to the doctor, however, can be very costly for men who lack health insurance. An estimated 41.3 million uninsured people will be eligible for new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the majority of whom will be men. Additionally, men of color have high uninsured rates. Nationally, about 1 in 3 American Indian and Alaska Native men, 1 in 4 Hispanic men, and 1 in 5 African American men is uninsured. In contrast, only 1 in 8 white men do not have health insurance. Younger men are also more likely to be uninsured than older men; about 1 in 4 men between the ages of 19-25 has no health insurance.
People without insurance often delay care and are less likely to receive preventive services. Delayed care can result in diseases being diagnosed at a later stage, more expensive care, and higher death rates. Across many leading causes of death, men of color suffer at higher rates compared to white men (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf).2 For example, Asian American men are more likely to die from cancer, strokes, and suicide; African American men are more likely to die from diabetes and strokes; and Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native men are more likely to die from unintentional injuries or suicide than white men. Fortunately, many of these health conditions can be prevented or treated through early detection by seeing a health care provider.
Like many Americans, men have much to gain from the Affordable Care Act. The health care law includes a variety of benefits that can help men of all ages lead longer and healthier lives. Under the Affordable Care Act, many young men can benefit by being able to stay on their parent’s health insurance until they turn 26 years old. For insured middle-aged and older men, the Affordable Care Act requires most private insurance plans to cover -- without a copay or deductible -- preventive services such as screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, 3 colorectal cancer, 4 depression, HIV,5 obesity, 6 and Type 2 Diabetes.7 Again, these preventive services are at no cost for many consumers who have insurance.8
Help For the Uninsured
Millions of uninsured and underinsured men will be able to obtain health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Beginning October 1, 2013, consumers will be able to compare, apply for, and enroll in health plans through newly established Health Insurance Marketplaces (http://www.healthcare.gov) for coverage that begins on January 1, 2014. People can also learn if they -- or their family members -- qualify for free or lower-cost private insurance on the Marketplace, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program through a single, easy to use streamlined application. In the past, men have fallen outside of the more traditional pathways for Medicaid coverage, which was generally limited to low-income children and pregnant women, elderly and individuals with disabilities. Through the Affordable Care Act, states have the opportunity to expand Medicaid to all uninsured adults between the ages of 19-64 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level. In those states expanding Medicaid, many parents and single, childless adults will now be eligible for health care coverage. Additionally, financial assistance to help pay monthly premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs may also be available for eligible men applying for coverage through the Marketplace.
Not only will health coverage be more affordable, but it will also be quality coverage. All small employer and individual market policies, whether offered through the Marketplace or not, will cover a list of essential benefits and services, including doctor visits, preventive care, emergency care, hospital visits and prescriptions. The Marketplace will guarantee that all Americans have a choice of quality, affordable health insurance, even if they lose their job, change jobs, move to a new community, or become ill.
For People with Pre-existing Conditions
Beginning next year, the Affordable Care Act outlaws discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, ranging from asthma to diabetes to cancer. For children, this provision applies now. No one will be turned away or charged a higher premium because of they are ill or have been diagnosed with an illness in the past.
If you currently have health insurance, check with your health care provider regarding whether you are up to date with recommended screenings. If you are uninsured, remember to enroll in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can apply starting on October 1, 2013, for coverage that will begin on January 1, 2014. For more information about the Marketplace visit www.healthcare.gov. You can also sign up for e-mails and text alerts to keep you up-to-date and on track.
Remember, it is never too early to learn what you need to do to enroll and get covered. Getting covered begins now and it begins with you! Do it for yourself. Do it for your family.
Please visit www.healthcare.gov to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and your health care coverage options in your state.
1 National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Feature on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD. 2012.
2 National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Feature on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD. 2012.
3 Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk.
4 Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50.
5 HIV screening for adults at higher risk.
6 Obesity screening and counseling for all adults.
7 Type 2 Diabetes screenings for adults with high blood pressure.
8 Check with your insurance provider to find out if these and other preventive services are included in your plan.