For the first time in seven years, my colleague Nida Khan will have health insurance.
Nida, who is one of 48 million uninsured Americans, eagerly signed up for the Affordable Care Act when the government began offering health insurance at reduced costs on Oct. 1.
“I only go to the doctor when I’m tired of self-diagnosing and cold medicine simply will not suffice,” Nida, an independent journalist and radio producer, wrote for The Huffington Post. “These past seven years have been a combination of uncertainty and gambling with my own health.”
Since 2006, when Nida lost her full-time job and her health benefits, she has prayed that she wouldn’t get sick. She’s been paying all of her medical bills out of pocket, but life is unpredictable and one day she did suffer from a bacterial infection.
“All I remember is being very ill for several months to the point where everyone constantly told me I looked pale and needed rest,” said Nida, who has also written essays for Essence magazine and The Grio.
“I remember going from community health center to community health center trying to get an answer,” she wrote. “I recall the frustration of not being able to go to a doctor that knew my history, and that could really dedicate time to diagnosing what was wrong.”
Nida isn’t alone.
African Americans and people of color make up more than 20 percent of the 48 million Americans who are living without health care insurance. Obama said the majority of people without insurance are now able to find a health care plan for under $100 a month – which in some cases could be cheaper than a cell phone bill.
Anton J. Gunn, Director of External Affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has spent the past few days answering a myriad of questions from black Americans who want immediate information about Obamacare.
Gunn is helping the Obama administration explain the Affordable Care Act to black folks all across the country.
“People need this information,” Gunn told me. “It’s very important.”
For African Americans and people of color, the new health law will address inequities and will increase access to quality, affordable health coverage, invest in prevention and wellness, and give individuals and families more control over their care, Obama says.