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An Obamacare lifeline for HIV

By Jay MacDonald ·
Friday, December 13, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

The historic, hiccup-plagued rollout of the Obamacare state health exchanges has been accompanied by countless specialized online tutorials, from the Spanish version of to the kid-friendly YouTunes videos to senior channels designed specifically to steer Medicare recipients away from the new marketplaces.

But applause to Kaiser Family Foundation for identifying a unique need and providing a customized tutorial site for one group for whom Obamacare may literally be a matter of life and death: Americans with HIV.

Developed as part of its Greater Than Aids public outreach partnership with the Black AIDS institute, Kaiser's Obamacare & You portal at addresses the needs of the HIV community. It's estimated that 1 in 4 people being treated for HIV in America are uninsured, and even greater numbers are underinsured.

Kaiser points out that those living with HIV have much to celebrate on the health insurance front in 2014. No longer will insurers be allowed to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions or impose annual or lifetime spending limits on policy benefits, an issue of special concern to those struggling with the high cost of ongoing HIV treatments. And, because a proportionately higher ratio of Americans living with HIV fall into lower-income groups, they are more likely to benefit from the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid underway in approximately half of the states.

The Obamacare & You site walks users through the nuts and bolts of the health exchanges based on their individual situation, whether they're uninsured, employer insured, privately insured, on Medicaid or Medicare, or receiving treatment through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

Along the way, they'll find state-specific plan and income subsidy information, a guide to essential plan benefits, a downloadable spreadsheet, and a voluminous FAQ section with answers to such HIV-specific questions as, "Do I need health insurance if I'm on the Ryan White HIV/AIDS and ADAP?" (short answer: yes).

"Our new Obamacare & You web portal for people with HIV is part of a growing body of resources the Foundation is developing to help Americans understand the ACA and their choices under the law," says Drew Altman, KFF president and CEO. "It is especially important that people with HIV understand how potential changes in health insurance will affect their coverage status and access to care and medications that are vitally important to their health and continuing prevention efforts."

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