A Frightening Diagnosis, But Help is On the Way

With so many pieces to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it can be difficult to understand exactly how health reform is going to play out. One easy way to resolve this is to ask how it would affect you or a loved one. What if you found out you were infected with a life-threatening disease? Let’s take HIV and AIDS, for example.

You may not be able to think of anyone you know who is living with HIV or AIDS, but don’t be fooled – more than 1 in 400 Texans are living with HIV, and that number is on the rise.

In Texas, we have a problem with HIV patients going untreated. Only 1 in 3 Texans living with HIV is receiving treatment. Not having health care coverage is a big reason.

Luckily, health reform is on its way, and, by 2014, the ACA is going to help make sure that Texans can access the medical care they need. Here’s how:

  1. By requiring most insurance plans cover preventive care and screening. Routine HIV testing will be paid for, which will increase our state’s low testing rate (only 21% of us got tested last year). It also means that people living with HIV will have access to the treatments that help them stay healthy and avoid transmission.
  2. By expanding Medicaid to cover most low-income Americans. Americans with HIV who meet the financial qualifications for Medicaid will be covered, increasing the likelihood that they will receive life-saving medical treatment.
  3. By ensuring that Americans living with diseases can get insurance. Starting in 2014, insurance companies won’t be able to deny or drop us based on pre-existing conditions. Until then, the government is subsidizing “Pre-Existing Condition Plans” for Americans who have been denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions like HIV or AIDS.
  4. By counting AIDS Drug Assistance Program payments as “true out of pocket” costs for Medicare recipients. The donut hole for people living with HIV/AIDS can be very large, and the health law will close it faster.

These measures are designed to make sure that all people, including those with HIV, have access to affordable care. Why? Because untreated HIV is everybody’s problem. By ensuring that people already living with HIV receive treatment, we can reduce the risk of transmission by about 96% and prevent new cases.  We don’t want Americans with HIV - or any other disease - to go without treatment for any reason, including public health. When they do, we lose the battle against these diseases in our communities and we also lose lives.

Whether we talk about it or not, the AIDS epidemic is real. Luckily, we’ve got a health care law in place that is trying to solve some of the problem. So, let’s talk about it!

Contributed by: Katherine C. Kornman