Obamacare Goes To Church!


By Yolanda Spivey

The number of African Americans uninsured is staggering—more than twenty-one percent under the age of 65 have no health insurance.  To combat this problem, The National Medical Association (NMA) along with Enroll America and Black churches are getting together to raise awareness.

The NMA is the nation’s largest organization of African American physicians with over 37,000 doctors on its roster.

Dr. Michael LeNoir, president of the NMA told The St. Louis American that “churches in the African American community play a pivotal role in informing people about the Affordable Care Act.” He is hoping that Black churches encourage their congregation members to enroll before the March 31st deadline.

LeNoir stated, “Our partnership with the faith community will provide our physicians with the opportunity to help the uninsured understand the long–term ramifications of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In addition, we will provide cholesterol, blood pressure and other screenings at the church events.”

A survey conducted by Enroll America showed that more than 68 percent of uninsured African Americans are unaware that financial help is available to help pay for premiums.  There are many tax credits African Americans are qualified for to purchase health insurance coverage in the marketplace.

Etoy Ridgnal, director of African American Engagement and faith Based Initiatives told The St. Louis American, “Churches are the center of the African-American community and are in the forefront of educating people about the Affordable Care Act.”

In addition to getting more African Americans to enroll in the Affordable Care Act, the NMA and Enroll America are trying to bring attention to the many diseases that are prevalent in the African American community such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  They are also raising awareness on the dangers  smoking cigarettes has on one’s body.  More than 25 percent of black men and 18 percent of black women over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes.

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention states “that 14 percent of African Americans, or approximately 5.5 million people, are considered to be in fair or poor health. Approximately 38 percent of African-American men and 44 percent of African American women, 20 years of age or older, have hypertension while 38 percent of African-American men and 54 percent of African-American women, over 20 years of age, are obese.”

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