"Get Ready to Get Covered."
This message will appear on posters, fliers and magnets at Planned Parenthood clinics in South Florida and around the country starting next week. It's the debut of the organization's national initiative to encourage uninsured people, particularly Hispanics, to enroll in new health coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act starting Oct. 1.
"It's an incredible sense of urgency," said Lillian Tamayo, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. "Think about a woman who would have the ability to access affordable health care foregoing a breast exam or a pap smear that could've detected cancer."
Outreach efforts will particularly target Hispanic women, 38 percent of whom lack insurance coverage in Florida, according to a 2009 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nearly 20 percent haven't been screened for cervical cancer in the past three years, and nearly one-third haven't had a mammogram in the past two years, according to Planned Parenthood.
"Hispanic women notoriously put themselves in the back of the line when prioritizing their own health care," said Tamayo, adding that they put their children and others first. "If Latina women are left out, we can expect to continue to have deplorable health outcomes."
The Affordable Care Act will provide new private insurance options, many at reduced cost, for millions of uninsured people and expand Medicaid coverage. It will also require insurance plans to cover birth control and breast cancer and cervical screenings without a co-pay. The initial enrollment window is Oct. 1 to March 31, 2014.
In July, Planned Parenthood will train more than 200 staff from centers around the country about how to educate patients about the new options and conduct community outreach. Local staff will then spread the word through health fairs, barbecues and other community events, along with partners in the consumer health advocacy coalition Florida CHAIN. They may also conduct door-to-door outreach and have applied for federal funding to directly assist people with the enrollment process.
Planned Parenthood clinics in South Florida may see up to 10,000 new patients in the year after legislation goes into effect, Tamayo said. They plan to hire more staff and reevaluate the design and location of their centers to accommodate the increase, she said.
Currently, more than 25,000 patients a year visit the 10 clinics in South Florida. One in four of these patients -- including half of those in Miami-Dade County -- are Hispanic.
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