Communities of Color
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became federal law in 2010, includes vital protections and benefits for Michigan residents. Some of these protections are being phased in, and some have already taken effect.
ELIMINATING HEALTH DISPARITIES
Q: People of color comprise 23 percent of Michigan’s population. Does the ACA help communities of color?
A: Yes, it does. Communities of color in Michigan stand to gain from the new health care law — both from provisions that will affect all communities but have a disproportionate impact on communities of color and from those that are designed specifically to eliminate health disparities.
Q: What does the ACA do for people with pre-existing conditions, and will that affect communities of color?
A: Nearly one-fourth of all Michiganders (24.7 percent) have a pre-existing condition, but because of health reform, they will now find it easier to purchase and keep health coverage. While this will help all racial and ethnic groups, groups that are more likely to have pre-existing conditions stand to gain even more. For example, more than one-quarter (26.8 percent) of African Americans have a pre-existing condition in Michigan, followed by 25.3 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 25.2 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 16.5 percent of Latinos, and 10.3 percent of Asian Americans.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
Q: What does the ACA do for community health centers?
A: Community health centers play a critical role in expanding access by serving as a trusted safety net. Typically located in medically underserved areas, community health centers provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care to all residents regardless of insurance coverage, citizenship status, or ability to pay. Michigan has 29 federally funded qualified health centers (FQHC) with 184 delivery sites that serve approximately 469,500 patients. Of those who use community health centers in Michigan, approximately 41 percent are racial and ethnic minorities. Beginning in fiscal year 2011 and continuing through 2015, the health reform law will appropriate $11 billion to community health centers for the services they provide and for construction and renovation. It is important to note that undocumented immigrants will remain ineligible for Medicaid and other public benefits and will be barred from purchasing insurance through the exchanges. Community health centers, therefore, will continue to play a critical role as the safety net for our most vulnerable populations, including those who will continue to lack access to care.
Q: Will the ACA help minority-owned businesses?
A: Yes! There are approximately 75,101 minority-owned small businesses in Michigan. Small businesses often find it difficult to provide health coverage to their workers. Typically, coverage for small businesses is more expensive than it is for larger businesses. Since 2010, small businesses in Michigan have been eligible to receive tax credits to help with the cost of providing health coverage to their workers, and the size of those credits will increase over time. For 2010-2013, small business owners who offer employee coverage will be eligible to receive a credit that will cover up to 35 percent of the cost of coverage. For 2014 and thereafter, the credit will cover up to 50 percent of the cost of coverage. To be eligible for these tax credits, small business must have no more than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000.
Healthcare reform offers a long list of general benefits to consumers. Keep reading for a few examples.
GETTING MORE OUT OF YOUR HEALTHCARE COVERAGE
Q: How much of my dollars are actually going toward my care?
A: That’s a great question! Thanks to health reform, 80 cents out of every dollar in healthcare premiums must be paid out to for a policyholder’s medical care. If the full 80 percent is not paid out, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stipulates that your insurance company must send you a refund check every year. Here in Michigan, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare have already made a difference on this front! When the state of Michigan asked for a waiver to divert more than $53 million in consumer rebates back to the insurance industry, our coalition members fought that ruling and won! Because of the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare members, a federal ruling denied the waiver request – meaning less of your healthcare dollars go to insurance industry salaries and bonuses. This rule is referred to as the “medical loss ratio” provision of the Affordable Care Act. Community Health Centers
Q: How does the ACA help Community Health Centers?
A: Health reform will help nearly double the number of patients seen by the centers over the next five years. The funding could not only help the 184 Community Health Centers in Michigan, but also support the construction of new centers.
CHOICE AND ACCESS
Q: Will Michigan consumers have more choices?
A: Yes. Patients’ choice of doctors will be protected by allowing plan members in new plans to pick any participating primary care provider!
Q: What does the new law mean?
A: Insurance companies are no longer be able to place lifetime limits on the coverage they provide, ensuring that the 6 million Michigan residents with private insurance coverage never have to worry about their coverage running out and facing catastrophic out-of-pocket costs.