By Antonio R. Riley, Midwest Regional Administrator
We at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) know that it takes healthy individuals to build healthy communities. HUD's mission is to promote housing and the well-being of its residents. When an individual is confronted with financial hardship, HUD must deal with housing problems related to their lack of health insurance.
And the truth of the matter is that today there are 48.6 million Americans uninsured - that's 16% of the population. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands access to health insurance across most income groups in 2014, while developing new care delivery models to provide lower cost, higher quality healthcare.
Compared to the general population and other poor households, individuals in HUD-assisted housing frequent emergency rooms at a higher rate and are more likely to have health issues like diabetes and high blood pressure.
For the uninsured population at-large, health problems can lead to job loss, an inability to pay rent and utilities, bankruptcy and possible eviction or foreclosure -- creating a new population in need of HUD programs.
In general, uninsured residents pay more for medical services and are more likely to have substantial medical debt which is a leading cause of bankruptcy causing additional financial problems. This downward spiral makes it nearly impossible to become financially self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency means less need for HUD programs and in many cases it is the Affordable Care Act that can make the difference.
ACA can have a significant impact in the quality of life for many of the more than two million families currently benefiting from HUD housing assistance as well as help keep all families physically and financially healthy so they won't need HUD assistance.
In October, families and individuals can enroll; on January 1, 2014 they will have access to health coverage. It is a simple process; click here to learn more: www.healthcare.gov
Healthy communities are built by healthy individuals. The Affordable Care Act will help ensure HUD can use housing as a platform for improving quality of life and building healthy communities for all -- good health through good healthcare is the foundation.