BEYOND THE NUMBERS
As events and educational activities mark this year’s Hispanic Heritage month, we are marking recent progress in expanding health coverage among Latinos and seeking further progress.
The share of Latinos without health insurance has fallen by one-third since 2013, from 24.4 percent to 16.2 percent, the latest Census data show. Much of this improvement is due to health reform. The Affordable Care Act created a pathway for millions of Latinos and others to get comprehensive health coverage through Medicaid, marketplace plans, and employer-sponsored insurance (by allowing young adults to remain in their parents’ employer plans until they turn 26).
Though there were 4 million fewer uninsured Latinos in 2015 than 2013, Latinos’ uninsured rate was still 1.5 times higher than white non-Latinos’. Three steps would further cut the number of uninsured Latinos:
- Adopt health reform’s Medicaid expansion. Nineteen states haven’t yet adopted the expansion. If Latinos’ uninsured rate had fallen at the same rate in non-expansion states as in expansion states since 2013, 1.1 million more Latinos would have had coverage in 2015.
- Target outreach efforts to reach Latinos during the marketplace open enrollment period, which starts November 1. Some 5.7 million uninsured Latinos have incomes that would qualify them for subsidies to help offset the cost of marketplace plans. Community groups, health leaders, and health program staff should collaborate to raise awareness about coverage options for Latinos.
- Address problems in the application and enrollment process. Barriers such as the requirement to prove your identity before applying online have sometimes delayed enrollment for Latinos or kept them from enrolling at all. Federal and state officials should address issues that make it harder for eligible people to get and maintain coverage.