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New web portal explains Obamacare for people living with HIV Posted: November 24th, 2013

By Beth Orenstein

Beth Orenstein is a freelance writer from Northampton, Pa. A graduate of Tufts University, she covers health topics.

As many as one in four Americans with HIV are uninsured and many more are underinsured. The Affordable Care Act could mean great gains in health insurance coverage for them.

To help people with HIV navigate the new law, the Kaiser Family Foundation has launched a consumer Web portal, Greater Than Aids Obamacare & You.

The Web portal includes a frequently asked questions section that provides answers to more than 50 questions. They include:

  • Can I be denied health insurance because I have HIV? (The answer is no.)
  • If I receive services from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program or Aids Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), do I still need insurance? (The answer is yes.)
  • How do I sign up to get health insurance?
  • How much does health insurance cost?

Information state specific

Under "Find Your Story," you can see how you might be affected by the ACA based on your current insurance situation. You can search answers based on whether you have no insurance, employer insurance, private insurance, Ryan White or ADAP, or are on Medicare or Medicaid.

The site also includes state-specific information for all 50 states and the District of Columbia on health insurance marketplaces, financial assistance, and Medicaid coverage options.

You can find a guide to essential health benefits provided under the ACA with details about their relevance to people with HIV and a downloadable worksheet to help people applying for coverage gather the information they will need and to make the best plan choices for them.

Additional tools include links to the foundation's animated video explaining how to get ready for Obamacare and its health reform subsidy calculator.

Impact on people with HIV

Kaiser Family Foundation President & CEO Drew Altman said in a written statement, "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."

Among the aspects of the ACA that are likely to impact people living with HIV are:

  • Reforms that preclude insurance companies from using pre-existing conditions as a cause for denying coverage or raising premiums.
  • Removal of spending limits both annually and for a lifetime, given the high cost of ongoing HIV care.

Because a disproportionately high percentage of people living with HIV have lower incomes, health officials expect many people living with HIV to seek coverage through expanded Medicaid programs in states that have opted to do so.

Funding for the website was provided by Gilead Sciences of Foster City, Calif., a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative therapeutics in areas of unmet medical need.