Nurses as “Champions For Coverage”: Part 1

Nurses as “Champions For Coverage”: Part 1

The countdown to the institution of the historic Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) has started. October 1st is the first day for enrollment through each state’s Health Insurance Marketplace; coverage won’t actually kick in until January 1, 2014.

Leading the charge to ensure nurses take an active role in educating patients about coverage is Dr. Mary Wakefield, RN, PhD, FAAN, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

She recently wrote to Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing, encouraging nurses to get the word out about the Affordable Care Act.  Read her letter, Nurses and the Affordable Care Act: A call to lead, here. 

Wakefield’s call for nurses to champion coverage is inspiring, especially for those who provide nursing care to underserved communities, as she did in her home state of North Dakota.

Why Should Nurses Champion Coverage?

>Millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans need to learn about their options for affordable coverage under the new plan. For many people, this will the first time they have access to private insurance, whether because to high premium costs or pre-existing conditons.

>There is much confusion, misinformation, and fear about these changes. Unfortunately, the current political wrangling on Capital Hill over the budget and funding of the health care overhaul isn’t helping matters.

>Some Hispanic Americans (and other minorities) strongly prefer to get health info from sources they know personally, and that they trust. Preferrably in their native language.

>Nurses are trusted sources, plus they’re practiced at educating about health care, and relating to patients as whole people. The latest Gallup Poll of Honesty and Ethics in Professions shows that nurses are the #1 most trusted professionals. When Americans were asked: “Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields,” 85% gave nurses “high” or “very high” marks.

>Nurses must play a pivotal role in improving their community’s health by helping as many patients as possible to sign up for health insurance coverage. (That’s especially crucial in under-served geographic areas and minority populations).  

>Best of all, nurses can help give peace of mind to the many uninsured or barely insured people who constantly worry: What will I do in the event of a serious illness or hospitalization?

How are you taking the charge in alerting un-insured or underinsured patients coverage? Let us know!

Jebra Turner is a health reporter and former H.R. director, where she oversaw workplace health and safety training programs for staff and clients. She lives in Portland, Oregon, but you can visit her online at