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Health insurance is one of the major factors of living a long, healthy life. Photo: Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto via Getty Images.
Health insurance is one of the major factors of living a long, healthy life. Photo: Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto via Getty Images.

Want to live longer? Get insured | OP-ED

Almost one in four Hispanics living in the United States is uninsured, more than double any other group.

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As an ER doctor who has seen, in this great nation, too many preventable deaths from little to no health care access, I am convinced that health insurance for more Americans should not be a divisive political issue, but rather a humanistic and bipartisan no-brainer. 

Studies from around the world support what many of us on the medical frontlines have long suspected: people with health insurance, on average, live longer and healthier lives compared to uninsured people with the same risk factors. And that is because, lifestyle choices aside, preventing most diseases requires the occasional doctor’s visit and tests that can be prohibitively expensive without insurance.

For example, screening mammograms and colonoscopies have caught breast and colon cancers early enough to save millions of people. If caught early enough, one simple surgery can cure some cancers completely. But this is virtually impossible to afford without health insurance. Even more tragic is that almost one in four Hispanics living in the United States is uninsured, more than double any other group. 

Making the problem even worse is that the single largest barrier to people having health insurance is affordability.

A January 2021 poll showed that two out of three people did not think they could afford any health insurance. The sad truth is that for the tens of millions of Americans without work-sponsored insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, many cannot afford it without discounts. Which is why anyone who thinks they cannot afford health insurance needs to know about the marketplace. 

The Health Insurance Marketplace was created by the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and has different names in different states, like Pennie in Pennsylvania. This is where you can check to see if you qualify for discounts.

Before COVID, the range for financial support was for households making between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2021 and 2022, that limit is now 500%. Other recent laws have made health insurance even more affordable and most people are eligible for discounts.

If you want to learn more, act quickly. Open enrollment is the only time of the year when anyone who is eligible can sign up. It is happening right now, from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15 or 31, depending on where you live. You must enroll by Dec. 15 to have coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2022. There is no cost to apply. This one simple step could save your life. 

Marketplace enrollment dates and contact information in the tri-state:

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