A major recognition of health disparities began nearly two decades ago and despite their recognition, many have persisted or even widened. Health disparities represent health differences that are closely linked with social, economic, or environmental disadvantage (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2021). Of particular interest in this discussion is disparities in healthcare access which refers to the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes. One of the key objectives of Healthy People 2020 regarding healthcare access is to increase the proportion of persons with medical insurance.
In the United States, there are significant disparities in access to healthcare coverage and health outcomes. For example, people of color and low-income individuals remain at an increased risk of being uninsured (Ndugga & Artiga, 2021). To address this challenge, the government starting 2017 has ensured coverage gains are stalled and reversed. Various changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have also ensured increased coverage to some groups like Hispanic people who are already at increased risk of being uninsured.
Another crucial measure to address the challenge of healthcare insurance among minority groups is Medicaid expansion. To date, 39 states have adopted the Medicaid expansion program that aims at increasing coverage among low-income populations (Shrank et al., 2021). Under this program, Medicaid eligibility has been expanded to all adults below the age of 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This means that all individuals in the coverage gap will be able to purchase an affordable plan through the Marketplace and effectively utilize CHIP. At the local level, funding for navigators has been restored to help eligible people enroll in health coverage while increased outreach services serve to inform low-income populations about the new insurance plans.
Ndugga, N., & Artiga, S. (2021). Disparities in health and health care: 5 key questions and answers. Kaiser Family Foundation, 11. https://www.kff.org/racial-equity-and-health-policy/issue-brief/disparities-in-health-and-health-care-5-key-question-and-answers/
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2021). HealthyPeople2020: Access to health services. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/Access-to-Health-Services/objectives
Shrank, W. H., DeParle, N. A., Gottlieb, S., Jain, S. H., Orszag, P., Powers, B. W., & Wilensky, G. R. (2021). Health costs and financing: Challenges and strategies for a new administration: Commentary recommends health cost, financing, and other priorities for a new US administration. Health Affairs, 40(2), 235-242. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.01560
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