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Affordable Health Care Builds Strong and Healthy Communities

By Barbara Fields

As Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s New England Region, building strong and healthy communities is at the heart of the work we do.  One of the challenges to this work is how the lack of health insurance coverage relates to housing problems that HUD must deal with when an individual is confronted with financial hardship.

The Affordable Care Act expands access to health insurance coverage across most income groups in 2014.  It creates “Marketplaces” for individuals to buy private health insurance, with subsidies available to make plans more affordable.

The ACA also develops new care delivery models to provide lower cost, higher quality health care.

For the uninsured, health problems can lead to job loss, an inability to pay rent and utilities, bankruptcy, and possible eviction or foreclosure, creating a need for HUD assistance.

For individuals already living in HUD-assisted housing, such problems may make it harder to become more self-sufficient, increasing their need for HUD assistance.

The individuals and families that HUD assists are amongst the neediest in our society, the average income for a HUD assisted family is $12,500 too often leaving them with the choice of paying for health insurance or paying for basic goods and services.

The bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and will benefit the people HUD serves.

That is why we have to raise awareness about upcoming opportunities, starting this October, for eligible individuals to begin a simple enrollment process.  They will be able to select from numerous affordable options including Medicaid that go into effect on January 1, 2014.

For more information or to enroll, go to www.healthcare.gov or call the hotline at (800) 318-2596.

Please help us spread the word about the Affordable Care Act; meeting the health needs of these individuals will contribute to our work building healthy and strong communities.