Improved health for women of color under 'Obamacare'

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) passed in 2010 will give millions of Americans access to quality health care and will give low income African-American women access to benefits that they have traditionally been denied. The PPACA is designed to increase opportunities for health coverage for people who are less likely to be insured; because women of color account for 53.3 percent of all uninsured women in America, this is a significant boon to the health outlook for of women of color. By the year 2014, 10.3 million women will have increase access to health coverage; this includes access to preventive health care as well.

Access to preventative services with no cost sharing will aid those who delay preventive care visits due to the financial burden. Increased access to preventative health services will significantly help reduce the onset of particular illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even breast cancer, all of which impact African-American women at a disproportionately higher rate than any other racial category.

Breast cancer alone claims the lives of up to five black women each day. PPACA will also improve health related data collection of African-American women, helping health care providers better understand and address health concerns that are prevalent amongst black women.

The relatively unknown practice of “gender rating,” which allowed insurance companies to legally charge higher premiums to women, will also be eliminated. As of 2014, gender rating will become illegal under the PPACA. New mandates in the health care law will also promote more cultural and health literacy competency. It will be compulsory for insurance providers to improve access to health care information for people with low literacy levels.

In addition, community health clinics themselves will see an increase in overall funding, with an unprecedented $11 billion dollars allocated to community health centers from fiscal year 2011 through 2015.

Follow Caryn Freeman on Twitter at @CarynFreemanDC