Outreach to the African-American community on coverage: It matters

Kelly_HealthYeahAdIn The Afro, senior correspondent: Zenitha Prince recently described the ways in which Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is directing outreach efforts to African-Americans in the state. It’s important because of the prevalence of under-insurance in the black community.

Among upcoming events, Meredith Hurston, who blogs on health care resources geared to the African-American community at The Empowered Mocha Patient, will host a live Periscope video stream / Q&A for consumers at an enrollment event on Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore organized by HealthCare Access Maryland. And on Jan. 24, navigators will be on hand to assist with enrollments at several predominantly black churches on a day being dubbed “Super Health Sunday.”

Prior to the creation of Maryland’s state-based health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, blacks lagged behind non-Hispanic whites, Asians and others in the rate of employer-based health coverage. According to a January 2011 study by the Maryland Health Care Commission, the state’s uninsured rate for racial/ethnic groups in 2008-2009 was 9 percent for whites, 17 percent for blacks, 12 percent for Asians and others, and an enormous 40 percent for Hispanics (a subject for another post).

A gap still exists but health reforms have improved the rate of coverage and the use of health care among all groups, including African-Americans and Latinos, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. According to a university news release, the uninsured rate among African-Americans and Latinos fell twice as quickly as for whites, said Dr. Jie Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at the university. The work of Dr. Chen and the group, which was published in the journal Medical Care, also noted the impact of health insurance in making someone less likely to delay or forgo care.– a vital factor in improving health outcomes.