Affordable Care Act Helps Americans Ages 50-64

50-64 Uninsured Rates 2014

In the past five years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there have been strong supporters and fierce opponents.  No matter what side of the ACA one falls, it’s hard to deny the positive results it has had in some people’s lives. Since 2013, uninsured rate dropped by 31% among Americans ages 50-64.

 

Elderly Americans are among the most underserved populations in the country, and are at risk of struggling with poverty and disparity in health care.  The ACA expanded access to health insurance coverage to 50- to 64-year-olds through several provisions, including expanding eligibility for Medicaid, subsidies for consumers purchasing coverage through the new health insurance Marketplaces, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates based on medical history, and restricting how much insurers can increase premiums for older consumers.  Prior to the ACA this age group often went without access to health insurance due to high costs, denials based on pre-existing conditions, and limited Medicaid eligibility.

Between December 2013 and December 2014, uninsured rates dropped from 11.6% to 8% among Americans 50- to 64-years-old—nearly a third.

50-64 Medicaid Expansion

In the 27 states that expanded Medicaid, the number is closer to half with 9.8% uninsured dropping to 5.5%. States that did not expand Medicaid also saw a drop in uninsured rates among 50-64 year olds, though not nearly as high by comparison to states that did expand and below the national average. The percentage of 50-64 year olds on Medicaid in states that expanded their programs increased from 6.5% to 10.8% between December 2013 and December 2014. Medicaid coverage in states that did not expand increased, but not by a statistically significant amount (0.5%).

There have been a lot of changes and developments since our first blog post on the Affordable Care Act.  Health care reform continues to grow, and the results are being seen in the improvements in people’s ability to access affordable health care. With the results from the last ACA open enrollment yet to be seen, we hope to see that uninsured rates continue to drop for all Americans in any underserved demographic.

Resources for National Women’s Health Week

This past Mother’s Day launched the 16th annual National Women’s Health Week.  Led by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and raise awareness of the steps one can take to improve their health. nwhw-logo.epsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends many common measures, such as proper health screenings, staying physically active, eating healthy, and promoting other healthy behaviors such as getting enough sleep, washing your hands, or wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet when appropriate.  There are also many resources for women in need.

 

In a previous blog post, we detailed the National Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Information for the local offerings from the program can be found in the NeedyMeds State Sponsored Programs section.  There are other government programs for women’s health to be found on our site, including WISEWOMAN, a program that provides low-income, uninsured/under-insured women with blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings.

 

NeedyMeds has a database of over 14,000 free, low cost, or sliding scale clinics, over 4000 of which offer women’s health services. Search your zip code for clinics in your area, and find Women’s Health in Services under the Details heading  to find free or low-cost medical attention.  Assistance for women’s health can also be found in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database by searching for conditions that affect the women in our lives.

 

In addition to the CDC’s recommendations and the information available on NeedyMeds, there are many steps that can be taken that are particularly helpful for women of different ages. The National Women’s Health Week website has suggestions for women in their 20s to their 90s.  For more resources, check our website at Needymeds.org or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.53.28 PMSince 1927, May has been Better Hearing and Speech Month. Established by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the month of May is used to raise awareness about hearing and speech problems, encouraging people to analyze their own hearing and speech, and take action if they think there might be a problem.  Knowing the signs of hearing loss and speech-language disorders is important for individual adults as well as parents of young children.

 

There are many signs of hearing loss in both adults and children. Adults may notice a buzzing or ringing in their ears, persistent ear discomfort after hearing a loud noise, or muffled hearing as indication they may be losing their hearing. Their peers may notice inattentiveness or failure to respond when spoken to, or that a person avoids conversation, is isolated, or depressed. Children experiencing hearing loss may display lack of attention to sounds such as not responding to their name or following directions, pulling or scratching at their ears, or difficulty in school.

 

Recognizing the signs of speech or language disorders can also differ slightly in adults and children. Infants and young children may not babble, smile, or interact with others. They may make very few sounds or gestures, such as pointing. Having trouble putting words together to make sentences or playing with other children can also be sign that they may have a language disorder. Adults with speech language disorders may exhibit with stuttering, slurring, or aphasia—struggling with using words or saying words in the wrong order.

 

NeedyMeds has information for several resources for those with hearing loss and speech impairment in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database.  In a previous blog post, we discussed state grants for assistive technology including specialized telephones for those with hearing loss or speech impairment. NeedyMeds also has information on camps and retreats available for those who are hard of hearing. For more information, visit NeedyMeds.org or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

World Immunization Week

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 5 children are missing routine immunizations. With nearly 20% of the world’s population at risk for diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and other preventable diseases, there are close to 1.5 million deaths annually that could be averted. As part of World Immunization Week, we at NeedyMeds want to spread awareness on the importance of vaccinations and the resources available for those in need.

 

In a previous blog post, we shared a graph that compared the morbidity of illnesses from the years before the vaccine was developed to the year 2000. All the applicable diseases—smallpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, tetanus, and influenza type b—decreased in morbidity in the United States by 95-100%.

Vaccine

 

More recently, we wrote about this year’s measles outbreak that had schools barring unvaccinated students to cut down on infection rates. Though measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, 147 people from seven states were reported to have the virus, all linked to an amusement park in California. The same strain of measles was traced to a large outbreak in the Philippines in 2014, and has been identified in 14 other countries in the past six months. With no treatment, the vaccine is the main line of defense against the virus.

 

It is worth noting that hardly any medicine can be considered 100% effective; for example, the measles vaccine is 93-97% effective with one or two doses, respectively. This means that three to seven out of 100 vaccinated people will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Measles is so highly infectious that 90% of unvaccinated people who come close to an infected person will contract the virus. With this knowledge, being unvaccinated for infectious diseases is not only putting one in danger of serious illness, but also the community at large.

 

For those in need of assistance, our database of free, low-cost, and sliding-scale clinics has information on nearly 3000 clinics that offer immunization services. Search your zip code to find medical clinics near you that may offer free or low-cost immunizations. Pharmaceutical companies also offer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) such as Vaccine Patient Assistance Program and the GSK Vaccine Access Program for uninsured adults.

National Autism Awareness Month

In recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, we at NeedyMeds want to share the information and resources available for those in need and spread acceptance of those on the autism spectrum. In a previous blog post, we outlined what is known and the information available for those with a family member who has autism. With approximately 1% of the world’s population falling somewhere on the autism spectrum, it is not only important to be aware of the resources and to know the information, we must know how to be accepting and understanding of those with special needs.

 

NeedyMeds has information on several resources available to children with autism and their families designed togive them access to the same activities and opportunities as other people.  There are camps and retreats for those with autism  and Asperger syndrome that encourage acceptance and compassion. With trained professionals and low camper-to-counselor ratios, these retreats give those on the autism spectrum the chance to experience community and fun in a safe environment. There are also scholarships available so people on the spectrum can continue their education free of limitations.

 

For families facing an autism diagnosis together, there are various types of financial assistance available in the Diagnosis-Based Assistance area of our website. Having special needs or the responsibility of caring for one who does isn’t something anyone would ever ask for, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. Widespread awareness and consideration are as important as any form of assistance, and can mean the most to those in need of it.

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