Are We Covered? Health Insurance Disparities in the Affordable Care Act Era

By Hegenauer, Christa L. | Michigan Sociological Review, Fall 2016 | Go to article overview

Are We Covered? Health Insurance Disparities in the Affordable Care Act Era


Hegenauer, Christa L., Michigan Sociological Review


INTRODUCTION

In the past century, the increased health knowledge among individuals, advancement in preventative measures and treatment methods, and an overall raised standard of living have increased health outcomes for the United States population. Some theorists assumed that these changes would lead to the end of the socioeconomic status (SES) health gradient (Kadushin 1964). However, research has shown that significant SES and racial health disparities still exist, and in some cases have grown. For example, 2012 statistics reveal that the leading cause of death for both women and men, heart disease, has an inverse relationship with income level (Blackwell, Lu- cas, and Clarke 2014). Also, non-Hispanic black men and women have significantly higher rates of hypertension than Hispanic and non-Hispanic white individuals (Blackwell et al. 2014).

In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that African Americans are nearly twice as likely to be uninsured than whites, and Hispanics are more than three times as likely to be uninsured (Andrulis et al. 2010). Researchers estimate that the cost of these racial/ethnic disparities in direct medical costs and lost productivity in the United States, from 2003 to 2006, exceeded 1.24 trillion dollars (Andrulis et al. 2010). According to the CDC, "inequalities in health status and access to care-as well as the unequal burden of morbidity and mortality-for some racial and ethnic groups in the United States have made race and Hispanic origin among the most important demographic characteristics of interest to users of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)" (CDC 2010). Thus, in this study, I examine whether there are education level (representing SES) and racial/ethnic differences in health care access-specifically measuring health insurance coverage status-that persist following enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, commonly known simply as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), were passed by Congress and signed into law in March of 2010, and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court in June of 2012. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) believes that the ACA represents the most significant federal effort to reduce health disparities in our country's history (HHS 2015). Their agencies are specifically working to address health disparities experienced by underserved populations who have historically had poorer access and health outcomes. The ACA includes extensive legislation with ten distinct titles, all relating to aspects of reaching the key goals to "improve quality, increase access, and protect consumers of health care" in the United States (HHS 2015).

Some highlights of increased accessibility, as stated by the HHS, include expanding the coverage of young adults up to age twenty-six under their parents' insurance, increasing Medicaid eligibility to those who are below 138 percent of the national poverty line (NPL), and strengthening Medicare's preventative coverage. The primary way in which the ACA intends to protect health care consumers is through ending arbitrary withdrawals of coverage, guaranteeing rights to appeal, and banning lifetime limits on coverage (HHS 2015). Finally, an overarching goal of the ACA is to eventually lower overall national health care costs by improving health status among individuals and entire communities. This study will focus on the ACA's component of increased accessibility by evaluating insurance status.

Some outcomes of the ACA have arisen that make questions of accessibility imperative to answer. For instance, the wellintended objective to expand Medicaid to those with income levels below 138 percent of the NPL was originally mandated for all states, or they would lose federal funding to Medicaid. However, the withholding of federal funding due to this was deemed unconstitutional, and thus states can now decide whether or not to expand their Medicaid policies (Henry J. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Are We Covered? Health Insurance Disparities in the Affordable Care Act Era
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.