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Patience Urged as Iowans Deal with Healthcare Glitches

PHOTO: Work is being done around the clock to fix the glitches with the new healthcare marketplace, so those trying to enroll are being urged to practice patience.
PHOTO: Work is being done around the clock to fix the glitches with the new healthcare marketplace, so those trying to enroll are being urged to practice patience.
October 28, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa - It's been a far from smooth roll-out for the country's new online health care exchange, but fixes are underway, and those in Iowa and across the country who are having troubles with enrollment are being told to keep trying.

According to attorney and advocate Trelisha Brown, despite the glitches, the marketplace will help many people gain access to affordable health care.

"The goal is to get those folks, who are either uninsured or under-insured, actual benefits that at one point in time they did not have," she said. "So yes, I would suggest that people just be mindful of the significance of this particular program."

For those wanting coverage as of Jan. 1, the enrollment deadline is Dec. 15. The deadline to have insurance and avoid penalties under the individual mandate is March 31. Currently, there are about 250,000 eligible Iowans without insurance.

Since minorities are more apt to be uninsured or under-insured, the Affordable Care Act is expected to help reduce the health-care disparity. But as noted by Brian Smedley, director of the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the process of getting medical insurance for that segment is just a first step.

"Currently, many people in highly-segregated communities of color lack geographic access to care because there's a shortage of primary care providers, specialists, hospital care services, clinics, etc.," he declared. "So, the Affordable Care Act attempts to incentivize providers to work in medically under-served communities."

The ACA, said Smedley, also works to address the underlying conditions that have an effect on the health disparities between races, because of factors such as residential segregation.

He said that means factors "that, for example, impede access to healthy foods or a lack of safe spaces for exercise and play. The Affordable Care Act attempts to provide resources to help communities address these kinds of challenges in terms of neighborhood conditions that increase risk for poor health in the first place."

Smedley said the direct and indirect costs associated with health inequities, from medical care to lost productivity and wages, cost the nation around $350 billion a year.

More information is at 1.usa.gov/HpPpZx.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA