March 31 is coming up quickly and it is the last day for the current open enrollment period into the Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The physicians of Artemis Medical Society strongly encourage our communities to sign up before this deadline. because the next enrollment period will not open until November 2014. Medicaid enrollment, however, is open all year.
Many factors influence our health, including having health insurance. It’s a very important step toward achieving optimal health for you, your family, and your community, and federal law now requires us to have health coverage.
Artemis Medical Society, a medical organization representing over 3,000 female physicians of color, passionately supports our members and our community in living our healthiest lives. In that spirit, we asked our members to tell us what they would tell their own family, friends and community members about why they should sign up for health insurance. Here’s what we said:
1. “Because you never know when you might get sick!”
Webster Dictionary defines insurance as a, “means (or way) of guaranteeing protection or safety.” Many of us are required to have homeowner’s, renter’s or car insurance. When damage happens, it brings great peace of mind knowing you can pay for it. The same goes for our health, one of our most precious assets.
2. “To potentially prevent bankruptcy from medical bills.”
A 2013 study found that the number one reason that people file for personal bankruptcy was because of medical bills.
3. “To get preventive care without having co-pays. “
The law requires all insurance companies to offer this. There is no better medicine than prevention. Instead of waiting for health symptoms to appear, having and using preventive care helps you take charge of your health and make the best decisions about it. Preventive health care includes annual physicals, mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, gestational diabetes screening, well-baby check-ups, flu shots, colonoscopies, birth control, breastfeeding support, domestic violence counseling, testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and more.
4. “Ensures you have a medical
One of the promising directions of the ACA is the creation of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) . Think of a medical home as a base where all of your medical care is managed and a medical team helps schedule all tests and exams in a way that makes sense for your needs and schedule. It’s also where your primary physician considers you a partner in your healthcare. Medical homes offer better treatment and health outcomes for patients, decrease unnecessary use of the emergency room, and lower overall costs for the healthcare system.
5. “ Moves our country closer to achieving equity in health.”
Martin Luther King Jr. said “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” There is plenty of evidence that tells us that the health of African-Americans is worse than most other racial and ethnic groups in this country. Many social and structural factors determine the health of a person and a community, including education levels, employment, income, racism and poverty. These inequities are often the root causes for worse health outcomes. Not having access to quality health care also gravely impacts our community. Through several provisions in this law, African-American communities will now have access to quality care not experienced before.
Remember, the health of our community significantly influences our individual health. Ensuring that each of us has health insurance helps build a healthy community. It truly takes a village.
If you need help signing up for insurance, navigators and certified application counselors are available to help you. Please visit www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 for more information and to get covered!
Artemis Medical Society Executive Board members Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH and Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS wrote this article on behalf of Artemis Medical Society. The mission of Artemis Medical Society is to serve, nurture and celebrate a global sisterhood of women physicians of color. Through mentoring, networking and advocacy, we provide the foundation necessary to create a diverse physician workforce vital to our society. Visit www.ArtemisMedicalSociety.org for more information.