Photo by Flickr user Fotos Gov/Ba / Creative Commons
Photo by Flickr user Fotos Gov/Ba / Creative Commons

Our current healthcare system is dysfunctional and inefficient. The costs of care are skyrocketing each year; yet the quality of care is not necessarily improving. The number of uninsured Americans keeps growing significantly. In 2010, President Obama signed legislation to revamp the nation’s healthcare system and to guarantee access to medical insurance for tens of millions of Americans. Although the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care, is NOT the fix to our healthcare system, it is a good step in the right direction. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the new law this year. If the law is upheld, it will have a major impact on the Boyle Heights community.

In order to understand why healthcare reform is such a big deal, we must understand the dire situation of our healthcare system and how that can impact our community. As a nation, we pay more money for healthcare than any developed nation. And we significantly lag behind other industrialized nations in quality of care. And many people lack what is considered a basic right in other nations: health care for everyone.

California has the largest number of people without health insurance, at about 6.9 million, and 60 percent of those uninsured people are Latino, according to the California Healthcare Foundation. This staggering statistic shows how Latino communities like Bolye Heights bear the brunt of our broken healthcare system.

Health reform will make it much easier for people in Boyle Heights to obtain, pay for, and keep the health coverage they need. Here are a few things you should know about health reform:

It is important to note that the Affordable Care Act is a very complex and detailed piece of legislation. Even many healthcare professionals still do not fully understand what will truly happen with healthcare reform. Try to become informed slowly about what changes you can expect to our healthcare system and how it will impact the community of Boyle Heights.

Victor M. Peña is a native and resident of Boyle Heights. He has a little over 5 years of healthcare experience working with healthcare organizations in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties. He is currently completing his Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and manages a department at a hospital in Downtown Los Angeles.  

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