January 1 marked a new day in health care for millions of families and individuals throughout the country. For the millions of Americans who signed up for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, they now have the security and peace of mind that comes with access to quality and affordable health coverage. From now on, insured Americans won't be forced to put off a check-up or worry about going broke if they get sick. And for those who already have insurance, additional protections and benefits kicked in thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Now, it is against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage or charge you more because of a pre-existing medical condition. And they will no longer be able to drop you from coverage just because you get sick or get into an accident. Most plans must cover preventive services like cholesterol and cancer screenings, at no out-of-pocket cost. Better access to prevention and wellness services is important for reducing health disparities among Latinos who suffer from high rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.
Andrew Santiago is one of the 10.2 million Latinos who stand to benefit from the new protections provided by the Affordable Care Act. Andrew is a comedy writer from Brooklyn who works freelance jobs in television production. Andrew signed up for coverage under the Health Insurance Marketplace and qualified for a tax credit that allows him to purchase medical and dental insurance for only $87 a month. Andrew received enrollment assistance from the Hispanic Federation, one of the organizations working to ensure that Latinos across New York, New Jersey and Florida have access to quality and affordable coverage.
Before the Affordable Care Act, Andrew didn’t think it was possible for him to secure or maintain health insurance given his financial situation and now he has a quality plan at an affordable price. Now, Andrew can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with health insurance because he can get the care that he needs when he needs it. A report from the Department of Health and Human Services released in October shows that half of single young adults are eligible for coverage for $50 a month or less. That means that young people everyone just like Andrew can get quality and affordable coverage for about the same cost as a monthly cell phone bill.
Now is the time to spread the word with family, friends and neighbors, tell them about the new health care choices and benefits that are available to them. For more information or to enroll visit HealthCare.Gov or CuidadoDeSalud.Gov You can also join in the conversation by following our bilingual Twitter account @LaCasaBlanca, or use the hashtag #OurSalud to share your health care story, we’d love to hear them.
Katherine Vargas is the Director of Hispanic Media