A Giant Step Toward a Culture of Health

Oct 1, 2013, 12:15 AM, Posted by

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.

This moment has been decades in the making, and October 1 is just the beginning. In the months ahead, tens of millions of Americans will discover new and affordable options for obtaining health insurance, many of them for the first time.

(Visit our Health Insurance Enrollment page.)

Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of people will access coverage through expanded Medicaid programs and new health insurance marketplaces. Many will qualify for financial assistance to help pay for premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Small business owners, many of whom have wanted to offer insurance benefits but have been unable to afford it, will also have new options.

The next six months will have their challenges. History tells us that an undertaking this substantial will have to evolve over time as it becomes part of American society. In the coming months, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will continue to support vital efforts to help raise awareness and enroll more people. We know that achieving success will require hard work and an all-hands-on-deck approach.

As a physician, I know that going without health coverage, even for a short period, can impact one’s health. Those who are uninsured live with illness and die younger as a result. Without health insurance, children don’t receive the care they need to learn and grow. That’s why access to health insurance is so important. It enables people to lead longer, healthier lives. And because of access to preventive care and better management of chronic disease, it will improve the overall health of our entire nation.

Please visit and spread the word about RWJF.org’s new enrollment section, where individuals, small businesses, and those who want to help others gain health insurance can find a variety of resources.

I also hope you’ll watch my video message to the RWJF community and all those who have worked for decades to reach this day.

After more than a generation of effort, we stand on the verge of a substantial reduction in our nation’s uninsured population. Today marks an historic opportunity to take a giant step towards achieving a culture of health in America.

October 1: An Historic Day for Coverage