Around this time last year, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—or what has become widely known as Obamacare due to it being President Barack Obama’s healthcare law—was nearly at the precipice of becoming non-existent in the U.S. due to the enrollment rate not meeting the requirement to become law. But at its final hour enough Americans enrolled into Obamacare giving it life. One reason why the ACA was able to survive was possibly due to the Latino community enrolling.
So far this year an estimated 9.1 million people are believed to have enrolled into ACA’s second enrollment. And as we enter the final month of the enrollment period, I’m going to present some findings from last year’s enrollment period—in-addition to this year’s enrollment period—that shows how the enrollment of Latinos benefitted other Americans in the country.
Last year, when Obama’s administration was pushing for enrollment into ACA a mostly targeted group were Latinos. Particularly, young and elderly Latinos were heavily targeted because—although the community is becoming one of the largest in this country—they were also the most likely of people to not be insured in this country.
Being the most likely group uninsured and the highest populated, Latinos were seen as the go-to-group when it came to ensuring the ACA existence and its benefit to the elderly and poor within the country.
As of now, Latinos are believed to make-up 18% of the U.S. population and among those who were uninsured before ACA rolled in an estimated 30% of Latinos were not covered. The 15.5 million or so Latinos—mostly young and healthy—were seen as a key demographic to be targeted by the administration because with their enrollment it would keep a balance on the marketplace for insurance plans keeping the pricing plans down for older Americans who needed to be insured.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, during the early stages of last year’s enrollment period only 7% of Latinos made up the enrollees on the federally run insurance plan marketplace. A very uninspiring number that would see the continuation of ACA.
But as time passed, the increase of Latinos enrolling rose. The first enrollment period there was an estimated 28% of Latinos under the age of 35 who ended up enrolling into ACA and obtaining some form of health insurance. This year’s enrollment shows the number of Latinos enrolling increasing to 35%.
With the number of Latinos enrolling and being under the age of 35, the affordability for health insurance coverage for elderly Americans increased. While there are still hurdles that many elder Americans may have to face, the cost isn’t as high as if they too enroll into ACA. And while young Latinos may “feel the burden” having higher costs in their coverage, it is the price to pay to one day be covered themselves when they are in a similar place as elderly Americans are today.
Another benefit to Latinos enrolling into ACA is how Medicaid was able to expand with the enrollees.
Designed as a government-sponsored insurance program for low-income Americans, Medicaid has become a part of the insurance marketplace and could benefit from the increased enrollment into the ACA. While there aren’t any significant detailed reports released yet to tell of such benefits there appears to be signs expansion most likely attributed to Latino enrollees.
Under ACA, people who are insured by Medicaid can now cover preventive services like mammograms or colonoscopies without charging the patient. In-addition to offering preventive services, people under Medicaid can partake in free yearly doctor visits in order to stay healthy. Also, people covered by Medicaid can expect to save money on brand-name drugs. Meanwhile, Medicaid also provides doctors with more support and provides them with new supportive care practices.
While more people become enrolled, Latino or not, ACA and its insurance marketplace could potentially offer more coverage for at a decent cost. The way to do that do is to continue to get people to enroll each time it opens.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, using data provided by the U.S. census, among 1 out of 4 Latinos is statistical believed to be uninsured. What this means in percentage is that since ACA was enacted the number of Latinos uninsured within this country has dropped 32%.
While the number of Latinos becoming insured is going, there is still a number of Latinos who are not insured. Back in November when the second enrollment period opened, an estimated 30% of the uninsured are said to be of Latino origin which is the same percentage prior to ACA kicking in. In the next installment of this story, I’ll look into who within the Latino community are enrolling and where they live within the U.S.