When I helped promotoras go door to door in Utah to educate families about the Children’s Health Insurance Program, I became increasingly aware of how confusing the health care system is for many persons, especially for aspiring citizens. I remember how some people shut the door in my face and how I could tell if someone was at home but pretended they weren’t. Also, I distinctly remember how my conversations with newly arrived immigrants and refugees would be the only meaningful conversations I would have that day. Going door-to-door made me realize that one conversation may have led to one more person or family getting the affordable, quality health care they deserve. If we didn’t have these conversations, some of these families would still have thought that they couldn’t get health care until they were in the emergency room.
I am sure today that many persons are still confused about how to access health care in this country and that will be no different after enrollment begins on October 1st and after coverage begins on January 1st. I am thrilled that National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is a Champion for Coverage. As a champion, we will reach Latinas, their families, and their communities who face insurmountable obstacles to health care. We are all aware that Latinas face severe health disparities which are only aggravated by lack of access to care. Latinas have the highest rates of getting cervical cancer and are diagnosed at twice the rate of non-Latina white women. Transgender Latinos/as may not receive the critical cervical cancer screenings they need because of provider discrimination. For many Latinas, the cost of contraception is prohibitive, forcing many to go without it. For these reasons, and many more, we are honored to help educate our community.
At this moment, we Latinos/as have an opportunity to receive the health care we need. All health plans that will be offered on the Health Insurance Marketplaces will be required to cover preventive health services, the very life-saving care that Latinos/as need to treat and screen cervical cancer and other illnesses. For the very first time, these same plans cannot discriminate on the basis of sex or gender identity, an important step in improving the health of our LGBTQ community members. However, we aren’t going to get the care we need unless we all chip in and charlamos con nuestras hermanas, nuestras madres, nuestras tías y nuestras familias. For more information about how you can enroll, please go to HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov. For more information on enrollment options for our LGBTQ hermanos y hermanas, please go to http://out2enroll.org/.