As the Supreme Court holds hearings on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act this week, it is worth noting the ways Obamacare is improving the lives of Latinos. Given that Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than any other ethnic group, it comes as no surprise that a majority (66 percent) of Latino voters support the law, which aims to insure all Americans. Obamacare has already made 9 million more Latinos eligible for health coverage.
By 2050 Latinos will make up 30 percent of the population. The Affordable Care Act takes these demographic shifts into account by helping Latinos gain access to critical preventive services, protecting those with pre-existing conditions, and making health coverage more affordable for everyone.
Here are the top seven ways the Affordable Care Act is improving the lives of Latino Americans.
The Affordable Care Act addresses cost—the very problem that caused 32 percent of Latinos to be uninsured in 2009.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Latinos will save millions of dollars on health care. All Latinos will save on important preventive services available free of cost and senior Latinos will save through lower Medicare Advantage premiums and lower prescription drug costs. Further, as many as 9 million low-income Latinos will gain coverage by 2014 with Medicaid set to expand eligibility to those who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Latinos spend more on out-of-pocket medical expenses than any other ethnic or racial group and will therefore benefit from no longer having to pay copays for many important preventive services. More than 500,000 Latinos have already gained access to free diabetes tests, obesity screenings, nutritional counseling, annual wellness visits, and other preventive services that seek to improve health, while also helping to cut down on future medical expenses.
Beginning in 2014 approximately 2.3 million Hispanics who are self-employed or small-business owners (and their 1.4 million employees) may be eligible to purchase affordable health care coverage through an insurance exchange, giving employers the opportunity to choose more affordable care.
It is estimated that Latinos will compromise 25 percent of the population that benefits from state-based exchanges that help small businesses compare health plans and offer employees the best health packages. Beyond guiding small businesses through comparing private health plans, the exchanges will also raise awareness about small-business tax credits already lowering the costs of providing coverage for businesses.
736,000 Latinos under the age of 26 gained access to health insurance in the two years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
That’s a third of the 2.5 million young adults that became insured under the act’s new dependent coverage provision, which allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance policy until age 26. 1.3 million young people from communities of color—many of them new college graduates—have access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s strategic investments in community health centers, community health workers, better known as “promotoras,” received more support, helping them provide more services to medically underserved communities in which many Latinos live.
These workers help patients to prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease—conditions prevalent in Latino communities.
Health reform will make oral contraceptives more accessible to Latinas beginning in August 2012.
Contraceptives are often used to treat conditions unrelated to the prevention of pregnancy, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, which affects 13 percent of Latinas with a family history of diabetes and can lead to ovarian cancer if left untreated. Under the Affordable Care Act, women will be able to access contraception without cost sharing.
Half of all Latino children born in 2000 are at risk of developing diabetes. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could legally deny coverage to Latino children with diabetes or other pre-existing conditions or charge them substantially more.
The Affordable Care Act created the Office of Minority Health, which monitors the quality of care that communities of color receive under health reform.
The office is housed within the Department of Health and Human Services and works to improve minority data reporting and collection, identify health disparities across races, and ultimately improve health care outcomes for Latinos and other racial and ethnic minorities.
Laura Pereyra is a Bilingual Press Associate and Madeline Meth is a Special Assistant for the Press team at the Center for American Progress.