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The questions you were too confused or too busy to ask.
Reader Tip: Follow the hyperlinks in the post below for more information and additional resources.
 
On October 1, 2013, a historical accomplishment for socioeconomic parity for all Americans  but in particular for African Americans and minorities and the beginning of a happier, healthier, more equal America for ALL totally happened.  Also on October 1, 2013, most major functions of the United States government shutdown.  For my those living under a rock, October 1st was the official beginning of the (first) “open enrollment period” for Health Insurance Marketplaces around the country.  For all of my non-political readers, it was also the first day of the government’s 2014 Fiscal Budget.
For the most part, these two things have very little to do with each other but, because of ideological differences in the political party system (and the differences in one party in particular), millions of Americans think they are one-in-the-same.  So it's time for quick and dirty explanation of what the heck is going on and why you should care.
Ready? Set. GO!
 
Question: “Affordable Care Act versus Obamacare. What is the Difference?”
 
Answer:  There isn't a difference. They are the same thing. In fact, they are both “nicknames.” The original name of the law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
 
Question: “Wait, Obamacare is still a law? I thought the US Supreme Court overturned it or something!”
 
Answer: Yes, the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare is still the law of the land and has been helping millions of Americans EVERYWHERE since it was passed in 2010.  But hey, don't feel bad, you aren't the only one.  Millions of Americans are still VERY confused about the law and what it does.
 
Question: “Well then, what does this have to do with the current Government Shutdown?”
 
Answer: Besides a small disagreement between Congress, the Administration and an ever decreasing group of Republican Congressmen who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, nothing at all! The government is currently shutdown due to the failure of Congress to pass a federal funding bill. Want to know more? Here is an explanation of the federal budget process.
Question: "So, what does the Government Shutdown mean for everyday Americans?"
Answer:  Well, the shutdown affects everyone differently but it affects every single American. Depending on what services you receive from the government (whether you know it or not), who your employer is, and where you live. Here is a good breakdown of what this all means...
 
Question: “Ok, enough about this shutdown silliness. What is this open enrollment thing you mentioned? This health care jargon is confusing.  Can you break it down?”
 
Answer: ABSOLUTELY! Open Enrollment is the period of time that individuals can apply and enroll for Health Insurance in State and Federal Marketplaces.  The current Open Enrollment Period is October 1, 2013–March 31, 2014.  In short, it is open season for health insurance and everyone is invited.
 
FUN FACT: The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, (whatever you want to call it) opens the door for millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans to finally attain an equal footing of security that was previously unaffordable, inadequate and for some unattainable.

 Question: “But really, why should I care about Healthcare?”

Answer: Well, to start… you just should. But if that was not enough reason, African Americans suffer from higher ratesof a range of chronic illnesses compared to the general population.  For instance, African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers, including: stomach, liver, prostate, and colon cancers.

Need more? Well, African American women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer. We are also more likely to suffer from gynecological cancers. The earlier screening and detection for African American women provided by good health insurance plans, and free preventive services provided by the Affordable Care Act, could help reduce this death rate.
 And if that was not enough to convince you why you should care, the infant mortality rate among African Americans is 2.3 times that of non-Hispanic whites and African American infants are four times more likely than non-Hispanic white infants to die due to complications related to low birth weight.
 
Question: “But HOW does this help out African Americans?”
 
Answer: I am so glad you asked!  The biggest benefit is that the Affordable Care Act addresses the severe inequities that are present in our current healthcare system. These inequities disparately affect minorities, in particular African Americans.  See my previous post, the “Politics of Splitting Pills” for more information.By expanding opportunities for coverage, providing no-cost screenings and quality disease management to patients we can can hope to improve health outcomes for African Americans. The implementation of Healthcare Marketplaces and the expansion of Medicaid will not only increase access to healthcare but access to quality, affordable health coverage that allows more financial stability for African American families. In addition, for all women of color, that means an investment in prevention and wellness services, and that individuals will have more control over their care.  It also means more money in your pocket at the end of the year.
FUN FACT:  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, The Affordable Care Act make approximately 7 million uninsured African Americans eligible for healthcare.  Here is the overview of how Obamacare has already benefited African Americans.
·       3.1 million young adults have gained coverage through the parents’ plans
·       6.6 million seniors are paying less for prescription drugs
·       105 million Americans are paying less for preventative care & no longer face lifetime coverage limits
·       13.1 million Americans have received rebates from insurance companies
·       17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer denied coverage or charged extra
 
Question: “Great!  I am sold.  Now, how do I sign up?”
 
Answer:  Go to  www.healthcare.gov  put in your state and follow the easy to navigate steps on finding the right application for you and your family.  Need some more help? Here is a cheat sheet.
 
For those who are nervous about signing up online you can get live help online, get help with your application by phone or sign-up for coverage by calling 1-800-318-2596.  Still nervous? Find out how you can get in-person assistance here. Whatever makes you comfortable, but make sure you take the time to #GETCOVERED.
Question: “Ok, I've filled out my application in person, online or over the phone for brand-spanking new health insurance. Now what?”
 
Answer:  Once you have been approved,  lower-rates, better coverage and more security for you and your loved ones starts January 1, 2014.
See that wasn't so bad, was it?
 
NOTE: This is the “quick and dirty” not “extensive and clean” FAQ. For more information and guidance on healthcare in your state, go to the experts... www.Healthcare.gov

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