Foundation for Health Coverage Education Seeks to Educate African Americans about Health Insurance Options
- Created on April 29th, 2008
- By Phil Lebherz, Executive Director
African Americans are the second largest uninsured group in the United States. The vast majority represent working Americans, families, single parents, the elderly - people who need and should have access to quality health insurance programs.
According to statistics gathered by various health institutions, there were 7.7 million uninsured African Americans in the United States as of 2006. Among African American working families, only 49 percent have employer–sponsored health insurance, a percentage relatively low compared to that of whites at 62 percent. Of the 7.7 million uninsured African Americans, a staggering 1.6 million are children.
While politicians argue about the best approach and yet another committee is formed to "discuss" how to proceed, millions of Americans are left without the healthcare coverage they need.
FHCE Reaches out with Information
Recognizing the need to reach out to all segments of society to share information about how to identify available programs and sign up for health insurance, in 2007, the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (FHCE) launched an educational campaign to promote eligibility awareness in African American and other minority communities. FHCE is a non–profit organization whose main goal is to provide the uninsured with information needed to obtain health insurance.
Millions Qualify for Health Insurance
The good news is that millions of African Americans and other minorities do qualify for free and low–cost government–sponsored health coverage today and are simply unaware of their eligibility. In fact, due to recent changes in the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines, in many states, a family of four may make up to $63,600 and still qualify for public sponsored health programs. Income requirements vary by state. For example, in New York, the income level for a family of four qualifying for Child Health Plus increased from $51,625 to $53,000 a year at 250% of the FPL. And, in California – the income level for a family of three (husband and pregnant woman) is now at 300%, the FPL increased from $51,510 to $52,800. Again, other states have made similar changes in their guidelines, meaning that many more people now qualify for coverage.
The number of individuals designated as "poor" has increased approximately 10% over the last decade. National poverty data are calculated using the official Census definition of poverty. Under this definition, poverty is determined by comparing pretax cash income with the poverty threshold, which adjusts for family size and composition. In 2007, according to the official measure, more than 36.5 million people, about 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population, lived in poverty. Social advocates stress that many of these people represent working families, mothers caring for infants or toddlers, children, or the elderly.
Simple Quiz Shows Eligibility
To help people quickly identify health insurance programs they may qualify for, FHCE offers a simple 5–minute eligibility quiz that can be conducted over the phone – by calling the 24/7 US Uninsured Help Line at 800–234–1317 and speaking with a live representative – or online at www.coverageforall.org. The call center counselor will ask basic questions, about any special health conditions, age, household size, income and demographic. Upon completion of the eligibility quiz, the call center counselor will advise callers of their health coverage options and provide information on how to sign–up for coverage. The website provides links to the program application that can be completed at home before making an appointment with the public program representative.
There are many benefits African Americans can enjoy by making use of the resources made available by FHCE. For example, access to free or low cost health coverage and subsidized prescriptions are a few services FHCE can help you identify.
For more information on FHCE and its services, please visit www.coverageforall.org or call 800–234–1317.