Even as overall uninsured rate drops, Latinos make up a larger share

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Despite significant overall coverage gains following the Affordable Care Act, Latinos and low-income adults make up a large proportion of the remaining 24 million uninsured individuals, according to a report from The Commonwealth Fund.

Survey data collected between February and April of this year found that Latinos make up 40 percent of the uninsured, up from 29 percent in 2013, before the law went into effect. Conversely, the market share for whites and blacks decreased over that same time period.

In a brief, researchers note that the driving force behind those statistics is that Latinos make up the largest share of unauthorized immigrants who are not eligible for both Medicaid and ACA marketplace plans.

Although it’s unclear what percentage of uninsured Latinos are undocumented, the survey shows 78 percent of uninsured Latinos are foreign-born. Furthermore, uninsured Latinos are disproportionately unaware of ACA exchanges compared to their white and black counterparts, highlighting the need for more effective outreach within the community.

During the last open enrollment period, federal authorities have steered more education and outreach efforts toward the Latino population.

Individuals in the so-called “coverage gap”--those that don’t qualify for Medicaid or ACA subsidies--make up another large portion of the uninsured. Low-income adults in the 20 states that have not expanded Medicaid represent 51 percent of the remaining 24 million uninsured.

Expanding Medicaid in southern states, where a large portion of uninsured live, would ease disparities in that region. Previous studies show that nearly 50 percent of non-elderly uninsured Americans are eligible for Medicaid or subsidized health plans through the ACA.

- read The Common Wealth Fund survey
- here’s the brief