With Gains in Health Coverage, Latino Children also Gain More Equitable Opportunities for Success

By Steven Lopez, Health Policy Project, NCLR and Sonya Scwhartz, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

Our new report with Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families finds that the uninsured rate for Hispanic kids hit a historic low and the coverage gap between Hispanic kids and their peers narrowed considerably in 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. Credit for this success goes to the ACA, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and actions by states to help connect more Hispanic kids with coverage. historic_low_line  This is great news for Hispanic kids and for our nation as a whole. Hispanic children are a vital part of our nation’s future. They are the fastest-growing segment of the population—growing from one in four children today to one in three children by 2050—and will be our nation’s future doctors, teachers, and workers. A new body of research underscores the importance of affordable, high-quality health coverage during childhood. Having health coverage is linked to school success, better health throughout childhood, and improved financial security for families.

Despite these gains, about 1.7 million Hispanic children still go without health coverage and Hispanic children continue to be more likely to be uninsured than other children. And health coverage inequities for Hispanic children remain. An estimated 9.7% of Hispanic children were uninsured in 2014 compared to 6% of all children. These figures underscore the importance of closing this coverage gap.

eligibility_2_of_3The good news is that we can continue to make a dent in these numbers. Sixty-six percent of uninsured Hispanic children are estimated to be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but unenrolled. Even though the vast majority (93 percent) of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, they lag behind other American children when it comes to health insurance because their families face multiple barriers to enrollment. These barriers include language access challenges, worries about immigration-related consequences for their family members, and the complexity of eligibility rules.

In these last weeks of open enrollment for HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces, we families_face_barriershave a great opportunity to reach our community and encourage parents to enroll for coverage along with their children. And we can continue to encourage families to enroll their kids in Medicaid and CHIP all year long. Through these efforts, more Hispanic children will not only gain health coverage but a more equitable opportunity for success in school, work, and as participants in society at large.

success_in_new_yorkShare this information with any families you know who may be eligible for coverage. Remember: open enrollment for the marketplace ends on January 31, but Medicaid and CHIP are open for coverage all year! For more information, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call (877) KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669).

The Affordable Care Act Turns Five

Five years ago today, the country experienced a pivotal moment when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. Since passage and subsequent implementation, millions of Americans have started to enjoy its benefits, including Latinos. While the increase in Americans with quality, affordable health coverage should be celebrated, it’s important to highlight the other ways the law is benefiting millions of Americans. To mark the ACA’s fifth birthday, here are five ways the law is benefiting the Latino community.

1. Investing in prevention

  • 8.8 million: The number of Latinos with private insurance who now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing, including mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.
  • 9 million: How many Latina women with private health insurance now have guaranteed access to women’s preventive services without cost-sharing, including breastfeeding support and counseling, screenings for cervical cancer, and prenatal care.

2. Enhancing quality

  • 10: The number of essential health benefit categories private marketplace plans must cover, including recommended preventive services, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services.

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3. Creating new coverage opportunities for young adults

  • 913,000: Latino adults ages 19–26 who would have been uninsured, including 375,000 women, but now have coverage either on their own plan or a parent’s employer-sponsored plan.

4. Improving consumer protections

  • 11.8 million: The number of Hispanics, including 4.4 million Latinas, who no longer have lifetime or annual limits on their health insurance coverage. And Section 1557, a civil rights provision of the law, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other statuses.

5. There’s room to grow to ensure all who are eligible are able to experience the full benefit of the law

  • 1 million: The number of low-income Latinos who stand to gain coverage if states like Florida and Texas expand Medicaid eligibility.

There are many other ways the Affordable Care Act is benefiting Latinos and as implementation continues, we’ll see even more Americans benefitting. Of course, this is notwithstanding congressional attempts to repeal the law. It will take all of us to ensure Republican efforts to undermine the law are not realized. We know what’s at stake for millions of Americans, including Latinos, and NCLR will continue working to protect and advance the gains that have been made to ensure the potential of the law is fulfilled.