During January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) recognizes National Poverty in America Awareness Month. There are 37.2 million Americans living in poverty, an increase of 3.3 million people since 2019. In 2020, racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately affected by poverty, with Black (19.5%) and Hispanic (17%) Americans shown to have poverty rates that were more than twice that of White Americans (8.2%).
There is a clear and established relationship between poverty, socioeconomic status, and health outcomes, with those living in poverty having an increased risk of chronic conditions, lower life expectancy, and barriers to receiving quality health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly impacted low-income families. In 2020, nearly half of lower-income families reported that they or someone in their household had lost a job or taken a pay cut as a result of the pandemic, impacting their abilities to meet basic economic needs and further disrupting access to health care. More specifically, these disparities in access to health care affected low-income families of color.
National Poverty in America Awareness Month offers an opportunity for CMS OMH to advance health equity for all Americans. CMS and other federal programs offer a variety of resources to help learn how to access health coverage, manage health care costs, and fully utilize benefits. Below is a list of resources that providers can share with their patients.
- Review the guide Using Z Codes: The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Data Journey to Better Outcomes, which provides step-by-step instructions for health care professionals on how to use Z codes which can enhance quality improvement activities, track factors that influence people’s health, and provide further insight into existing health inequities. Find out more data on Z codes in this data highlight.
- View the Coverage to Care (C2C) Roadmap to Better Care and a Healthier You to help others better understand their health coverage and how to use it to access primary care and preventive services.
- Review the Manage Your Health Care Costs to help patients better understand health insurance costs and terms, know specific health insurance costs, plan for health care costs, and know how to pay premiums.
- Read the C2C Prevention Resources to learn more about preventive services that are available to adults, teens, children, and infants, with many available at no cost under most health coverage.
- Review eligibility requirements for Medicaid in your state as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal and state program that provides health coverage to children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low for private coverage.
- Visit the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) webpage to learn how this program helps to meet the health care needs of the elderly in their own communities.
- View the Medicare Savings Program webpage to learn how members in your community can get extra help from their state.
Help your community learn more about how the Administration for Children and Families Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is helping to assist households meet important expenses like heating and food.