Nurse Alice Benjamin talks Affordable Care Act: Part 1

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America’s favorite nurse, Alice Benjamin, is a nationally board-certified cardiac clinical nurse specialist.  She is also a community health activist. Benjamin sat down with rolling out to answer a few questions and dispel myths, rumors as well as discuss the pros and cons of what Obamacare actually does for African Americans.

What is the biggest myth about Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare? 
The biggest myth is that people do not need health insurance. What most Americans may not realize is that America, while one of the richest countries in the world has many of the worst health care outcomes. Unlike auto insurance — where you might be lucky enough to never get into an accident and use your benefits — aging and getting sick are inevitable. From the time we’re born until the time we die, access to health care and preventive services greatly affect our quality of life and our ability to be functioning citizens. We cannot work when we are sick. We can’t anticipate accidents or emergencies. We can’t choose our genetic makeup. Many of us are in socioeconomic situations that impact our environment, education, access to certain foods and safe places to live that predispose us to certain conditions. Therefore, while there are many things that affect our health, increasing access to quality health care for millions of Americans is the best place to start.


How is Obamacare beneficial to the African American community?
Obamacare is a major win for African Americans. The health care law not only lifts historical unjust systemic barriers that have limited access to healthcare; but also instills important patient protections. African Americans have higher prevalence rates of infant mortality, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol and HIV/AIDS when compared to other groups. This law removes the ability for insurance companies to discriminate against African Americans because we have a higher incidence of pre-existing conditions. In the past insurance companies were able to deny plans or charge more to those with pre-existing conditions. The law also allows more people who have limited income to apply for Medicaid. ObamaCare also improves the quality of health care provided, requiring health insurance plans to offer 10 Essential Health Benefits that offer several preventive services and treatments to address the health needs of the African American community.

Does my household income determine the amount I pay a month?
Yes. Your household income does determine the monthly premium you will pay for insurance through the health exchanges. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to monthly premiums and policy availability. The number of health insurance policies sold and the prices you pay can vary state by state, and even county by county within the same state. The more important thing to know is that most Americans will qualify for some type of premium assistance. Please visit HealthCare.gov to see what your area offers. And know that the initial prices you see are just a sticker price. Just like a dress on sale, the markdown will happen at the register; don’t be hung up on the initial prices. Complete the entire application to see what premium assistance YOU qualify for.


For more info on Nurse Alice Benjamin, check her out on Twitter @AskNurseAlice

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