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National Minority Health Month: Making Health Care Work for All Ohioans

April is National Minority Health Month, and while health equity is always a top priority here at UHCAN Ohio, it’s an important time to highlight how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go.

Today African Americans and Latinos suffer higher rates of obesity and other chronic diseases like diabetes. While the overall infant mortality rate is high in Ohio, it is twice as high for African Americans compared to Whites or Latinos.

The statistic that exacerbates all of these health realities is that communities of color are more likely to be uninsured than white Americans. 

Working to close these racial and ethnic disparities is some of the most important work we do at UHCAN Ohio, and key to that work is giving more people of color access to quality, affordable health insurance. That’s why UHCAN Ohio is continuing our enrollment work in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati to help people understand the benefits of their new coverage and get them connected with care in their community. Follow-up in communities with the highest numbers of newly insured Ohioans is a golden opportunity to reduce racial health disparities.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are new, affordable options for getting covered. During our last Open Enrollment, nearly 11.7 million Americans signed up or were re-enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In Ohio, more than 234,000 Ohioans enrolled in health coverage through the Marketplace and over 510,000 Ohioans have enrolled in health coverage through Ohio Medicaid. Nationally for African-Americans, the uninsured rate has declined 9.2 percentage points, while the Latino community has seen a 12.3 percentage point drop.

But we also know that insurance alone won’t bridge the gap in overall health.

Many of these newly insured are navigating coverage for the first time in their lives, and it can be confusing. They may not think to seek out the preventive services that can detect their cancer early or help keep their diabetes under control, or to establish a relationship with a primary care provider before they get sick. They also may not realize that many of these kinds of services are offered at no out-of-pocket cost.

In the coming year, we plan to test out different methods and tools to encourage newly insured people to connect with ongoing care and inform them about friendly, quality resources to improve their health. 

This April, during National Minority Health Month, we renew our commitment to building a better health care system for everyone.