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Engaging Communities of Faith to Help Americans Gain Health Insurance

Nov 13, 2013, 2:46 PM, Posted by John R. Lumpkin

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With the opening of health marketplaces and the Affordable Care Act’s partial expansion of Medicaid, our nation has an opportunity to substantially expand health insurance coverage for all Americans, and ultimately, to significantly reduce racial disparities in access to affordable coverage.

But to achieve that goal, communities of color must attain robust enrollment gains. That’s why RWJF is working with religious leaders and their congregations to help make sure that all who are eligible enroll.

The Problem

According to United States Census data for 2012, approximately 48 million Americans are uninsured. It is a problem that cuts across all racial and ethnic groups, but is most acute in two, resulting in 19 percent of African Americans and more than 29 percent of Hispanics living without health insurance.

In 2009, the Institute of Medicine documented what many suspected: The uninsured are much less likely to obtain preventive care; get timely diagnoses for illnesses, including cancer; receive treatments for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma; and take prescription medications as recommended by physicians.

Beyond the health consequences of uninsurance, there are steep costs for our economy. We all pay the bill for indirect fiscal burdens associated with the uninsured—including illness and injury, decreased workforce productivity, developmental and educational losses among children, and shorter life spans, costing the U.S. economy between $100 and $200 billion each year.

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A Giant Step Toward a Culture of Health

Oct 1, 2013, 12:15 AM, Posted by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA

More than 48 million Americans live without health insurance coverage. They are people we all know. They are our neighbors, friends, and family members. Some of them have been my patients. For years, they’ve been forced to make tough choices between getting the medical care they need and paying the rent. They’ve gone without preventive care, missed annual check ups, and skipped medications.

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been working to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, stable health insurance coverage. Now, thanks to the work of so many committed organizations and individuals, we have an opportunity to come closer than ever to achieving this goal.

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