iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While the number of uninsured people in the United States appears to have declined since 2010, Hispanics remain at increased risk of going without health insurance compared with other racial and ethnic demographic groups, according to a new report published Thursday.
Released by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation focusing on the U.S. health care system, the report sought to identify people who still have no health care coverage since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which President Obama enacted in 2010.
Hispanics have “become a growing share of the uninsured among racial and ethnic groups, rising from 29 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2016, more than twice their representation in the overall population,” according to the study. “In contrast, the share of whites has declined, falling from half in 2013 to 41 percent in 2016.”
The share of black uninsured black people also declined in that period, though only from 13 percent to 12 percent, according to the study.
“There is a larger slice of the pie made up of Latinos,” Sara Collins, lead author and vice president of the Health Care Coverage and Access at the Commonwealth Fund, told ABC News. “At the same time, the share of whites [and other race-ethnicities] dropped” as they gained more health care coverage.
The other risk factors for lacking health insurance include making less than $16,243 a year, being younger than 35 and working for a small business, according to the report. Overall coverage has improved, according to the report, with the number of uninsured people declining by 20 million since the ACA went into effect six years ago.
But the report found that 24 million working age adults were still uninsured during the study period from 2013 to 1016.
Researchers called 4,802 people in the United States on both landlines and cellphones from February to April of this year to get information on health care. They have done a series of surveys since 2013 to see how health care coverage has changed in the past three years.
Collins pointed out that undocumented immigrants, who include more Hispanics proportionality, were especially at risk for lacking health coverage because they are not eligible for Obamacare, Medicare or Medicaid services.
“Immigration reform [where] more people would gain citizenship would make more people eligible,” she said. “It also may be that [laws] not allowing non-citizens to enroll … could be loosened. California is looking at the federal government to allow immigrants to buy in the [Obamacare] marketplace.”
Rebecca Garfield, senior researcher at the Kaiser Family Foundation, pointed out that many states in the South, which have higher numbers of Hispanic residents, have also not expanded their Medicaid coverage, increasing the likelihood that low-income residents will remain without health coverage.
“Poor individuals are really being left behind,” she said. “We’re seeing continuing [trends of] high uninsured rates” for these groups.
Garfield pointed out that the lower rate of health care coverage for Hispanics isn’t surprising and that other research has found similar findings.
She also noted that Hispanics might face language barriers that hinder their getting coverage.
“Many people are aware that the law exists,” she said. “They may not be aware that they are personally eligible for free coverage.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation also released a study Thursday focusing on California that found 67 percent of uninsured residents in California are Hispanic and that half of them are undocumented. Overall, they found that of those who lacked health insurance in 2013, 79 percent now have coverage.
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