While some may speculate about the success and viability of the Affordable Care Act, one thing is certain: The nation’s uninsured rate continues to decrease since its implementation. The U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 13 released its annual report on health insurance coverage in the United States, and findings show that between 2014 and 2015, the uninsured rate dropped 1.3 percentage points.1 In 2015, the percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of the year was 90.9 percent.
The overall uninsured rate is below 10%, but 40% without coverage are Hispanic.
However, some populations are seeing improvements in uninsured rates more than others. At 6.7 percent, non-Hispanic Whites had the lowest uninsured rate among race and Hispanic origin groups. However, at 16.2 percent, Hispanics had the highest uninsured rate – nearly two-and-a-half times more than non-Hispanic Whites.
Is the Affordable Care Act working for everyone?
An August 2016 report from the Commonwealth Fund also showed that Latinos have the highest risk of going without health insurance compared with other racial and ethnic demographic groups.2 The study found that, of all racial and ethnic groups, the share of uninsured Latinos has risen from 29 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2016.3
Commonwealth findings also showed that one or more of the following factors apply to 88 percent of the current U.S. population without health insurance4:
- Makes less than $16,243 a year
- Under age 35
- Works for a small business
Fifty-one percent of the remaining uninsured live in a state that, at the time of the survey, has not yet expanded Medicaid.5
Despite disproportionate uninsured, improvements have been made
The good news is that between 2014 and 2015, the number of insured Hispanics increased 3.6 percentage points – more than any race and Hispanic-origin group.6 The ACA is also helping many gain access to healthcare. More than half of blacks and U.S.–born Latinos said they had been uninsured before receiving marketplace or Medicaid coverage.7
Three-quarters of U.S.–born Latinos said they’ve used their coverage to visit a doctor, hospital or other healthcare provider or to pay for prescription drugs, according to an analysis by the Commonwealth Fund, and 6 of 10 of these respondents said they would not have been able to access or afford this care before getting insurance.8
Why are Hispanics the largest uninsured population?
Undocumented immigrants are excluded from the Affordable Care Act, and the Commonwealth Fund study’s authors say that undocumented status is likely a major reason many Latinos remain uninsured.9
Hispanics also “make up a significant portion of other groups at high risk for not having coverage” (e.g., of uninsured adults who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, 47 percent are Latino).10 In addition to income and immigration status, language and awareness are significant barriers.11
Outreach, options remain important and available
Medicaid expansion, public and private outreach, immigration reform, and “a loosening of the ACA’s restrictions on undocumented immigrants” are said to be key in reaching remaining uninsured Hispanics.12
Aspira A Más is one health insurance organization committed to educating Hispanics about and helping them obtain coverage. With a Spanish-language website and licensed, Spanish-speaking health insurance producers, Aspira A Más provides Hispanics with information and plan options.
As open enrollment nears—and throughout the year—licensed health insurance producers associated with Aspira A Más and other organizations will be available to those looking for coverage that meets their budgetary and healthcare needs. Sharing resources with friends and family will be an important way to help build awareness and assist those struggling to find the right coverage.