Date of Conferral





Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


African Americans as a group tend to have numerous health issues, and by the time they seek healthcare, the conditions often advance into more serious ailments. Researchers have shown that cultural distrust of the U.S. healthcare system coupled with some discriminatory practices has hindered African Americans seeking care and taking full advantage of the healthcare system. With the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is some confusion about the application of the law, resulting in many intended beneficiaries misinterpreting it, and not accessing quality healthcare. This interpretive phenomenological study explored how African Americans in the Washington D.C., metropolitan area understand and interpret ACA provisions related to their healthcare needs. A sample of 10 African Americans adults participated in in-depth interviews that generated data for this study. Critical communicative methodology provided a framework for exploring the phenomenon. Study findings highlight the themes of interpreting the ACA to mean having more individual control and responsibility for healthcare decisions and having fewer perceived restrictions acting as barriers to access healthcare. Study results contribute to social change by providing knowledge to those who implement healthcare policy on optimal policy delivery to intended beneficiaries. This knowledge may also apply to other new social policy dissemination, thus ensuring policies reach their intended target populations, facilitating optimal utilization.