ISU webinar to explain how the Affordable Care Act affects your health

ACA Webinar

The public and professionals can learn more about the Affordable Care Act through an online seminar sponsored by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and ISU Extension. Photo by Bob Elbert

AMES, Iowa – It may come as no surprise that a recent survey found a majority of Americans do not understand the impact of the now 3-year-old Affordable Care Act. That is why the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University and ISU Extension and Outreach are offering a webinar for health professionals and the public. The online seminar is part of the Current Issues in Nutrition series.      

“It’s just to help people understand the Affordable Care Act,” said Sarah Francis, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition and Extension nutrition specialist. “Once the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional, then it became apparent that it was here to stay. I think people want to know how better to navigate the system.”

The federal legislation aims to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care. But according to the Kaiser Foundation survey, nearly 70 percent of those who are uninsured feel they don’t have enough information about the act.

The two-hour webinar will focus on the goals and intent of the Affordable Care Act, discuss disparities in health care that prompted the change and help participants understand their role in the implementation of the act. Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley talks about the emphasis on prevention in his comments for the introduction of the webinar.   

“We are confident that we can reduce costs and get better outcomes by focusing on prevention,” Braley said. Those cost savings will come from the expansion of preventive services, eliminating disparities and empowering people to make more healthful choices, he explained.

Kathleen Niedert, a registered dietitian and administrator of Parkview Manor in Reinbeck, and Roberta Riportella, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are also featured speakers. Niedert emphasized that the investment in prevention is about more than cost savings – it’s about improving quality of life.

“Today seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. And 75 percent of our health care dollars are spent treating each disease, but only 3 cents go to prevention,” Niedert said.   

Registration for the “Affordable Care Act for Professionals and the Public” webinar is required. The presentations can be accessed online and there will be a live Q&A from noon-1:30 p.m. on May 2. The Q&A session will be archived so participants can access it at a later time. There is a $35 fee. Registered dietitians can earn three hours of continuing education credits.

Francis says education is crucial to helping people understand the act as well as their responsibility in reducing health care costs. Even small dietary and lifestyle changes can make a big difference.

“Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help lower your blood pressure and provide other health benefits,” Francis said. “If we can start investing in prevention programs, the long-term health care costs will be much lower than waiting until a condition presents itself and trying to prevent that condition from worsening.”   

More information and registration can be found at: