By Sandria Washington -blackdoctor.org
March 31, 2014, is the deadline to enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), which expands the options for affordable coverage and provides financial assistance for those who qualify. For African Americans, this date is critical.
“March 31 could be the most important deadline of your life if you are African American,” says Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community based practice at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.
“African Americans carry a disproportionate burden of disease,” says Winn. “They have some of the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension and carry the heaviest burden of cancer compared to other racial groups. If you are African American, there’s an overwhelming chance that you’ll be affected by disease. Enrolling in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is an opportunity that just cannot be missed.”
Under the ACA, Americans that don’t sign up for health insurance by the March 31 deadline will pay a penalty on their 2014 income taxes.
Beyond the tax penalty, here are eight reasons why getting health insurance is an important, life-changing decision.
- African American women are more than twice as likely to die of cervical cancer, and are more likely to die of breast cancer than are women of any other racial group.
- African American women are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than women of other ethnic groups.
- African Americans have a death rate for all cancers that is almost 25 percent higher than rate for whites.
- Prostate cancer affects African American men more severely than other racial groups.
- African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the U.S. and are twice as likely to die from it compared to white men.
- Being African American is a risk factor for asthma.
- Rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma are both three times higher among African Americans than among whites.
- African Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites, and are more likely to suffer from diabetes-associated blindness and kidney disease.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act and resources, visit the BlackDoctor.org Health Insurance Marketplace.