July 25, 2013
Why the Affordable Care Act Matters to HUD and the Communities We Serve
By Region VII DRA, Theresa Porter
Today, there are 48.6 million Americans uninsured - that's 16% of the population. Health insurance is changing in important ways in 2014. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands access to health insurance coverage across most income groups. It creates "Marketplaces" for individuals and families to purchase health coverage that fits their budget and meets their needs and also develops new care delivery models to provide lower cost, higher quality health care. More importantly, under the ACA, health insurance companies cannot screen out people with preexisting conditions or deny coverage if people get sick.
HUD's mission is to promote housing and the well-being of its residents. Lack of health insurance is related to housing problems that HUD must deal with when an individual is confronted with financial hardship.
Overall, compared to the general population and other poor households, individuals in HUD-assisted housing have a higher rate of usage of emergency rooms and are more likely to have health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. For individuals already living in HUD-assisted housing, such problems may make it harder to become more self-sufficient, reducing their need for HUD assistance.
The individuals and families that receive HUD assistance are amongst the neediest in our society. The average income for a HUD assisted family is $12,500; too often leaving them with the choice of paying for health insurance or paying for basic goods and services.
The ACA will ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable healthcare. You can enroll at healthcare.gov (www.healthcare.gov). To get more information, a hotline is available in more than 140 languages at (800) 318-2596.
HUD program beneficiaries who would benefit from the ACA include those in the Housing Choice Voucher program, Public Housing, Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), and our Homelessness Programs. Meeting the health needs of these individuals will contribute the overall success of the programs and help them start a fresh a chapter in their lives.