¡Adelante, ACA!

by Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, National Council of La Raza

According to a new Census Bureau report, nine million fewer people in the United States were uninsured in 2014 than the previous year. And we’re seeing signs of progress that the law is working for Latinos. While one in three Latinos lacked health insurance in 2010; as of this year, that rate has dropped to one in five, a record low.

Despite these gains, Hispanics continue to have the highest uninsured rate at around 20%. With the third open enrollment period just a few weeks away (November 1), NCLR is gearing up to ensure people who are eligible don’t miss out on the opportunity for quality, affordable, and accessible coverage.

Providing health insurance to so many Hispanics helps to alleviate the pressures of navigating such a predatory health care landscape, especially for a population earning less than the average American worker. Latinos are still twice as likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic White Americans. Likewise, the median income for non-Hispanic Whites stands at $60,256, while Hispanics are taking home about $42,491. That disparity is compounded when combined with the fact that 19 states still refuse to expand their Medicaid programs. Because Medicaid is ultimately a program used to provide health care to low-income earners, that refusal disproportionately affects Latinos and other minority populations.

If every state agreed to expand, approximately 3.7 million Latinos could receive low-cost or free health care. The economic and public health incentives of doing so are clear. Furthermore, two states that have yet to expand Medicaid, Texas and Florida, rank second and third respectively in the size of their Hispanic populations. The failure of Texas and Florida to provide low-cost health care to their residents illustrates the disproportionate suffering felt by Latinos and the inconsistencies of coverage opportunities across state lines.

In spite of the political circus surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law has ultimately provided relief for millions of previously uninsured Americans, many of whom are Latino. The Affordable Care Act was put in place to allow all Americans to receive at least some form of health insurance and it has been mostly successful in achieving that goal. However, due to political sabotage and intransigence, many of the most vulnerable are still not able to get the care they need. This is especially true for Hispanics and other minorities. The Census Bureau study demonstrates the success of the ACA if it is allowed to function properly. The ACA is something our community needs and wants and NCLR will continue to work to protect the gains that have been made and further increase the number of Americans benefitting from affordable health insurance.

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