What Latinos Have Gotten Out of the ACA

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

As the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether the federal government’s subsidies are constitutional under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one has to wonder whether Latinos have overall benefited from the ACA. It remains a good question. Part of the answer to this comes from a survey done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico. The Latino National Health and Immigration Survey provides some interesting answers on how the ACA has impacted Latinos in general. One interesting result was that the majority of Latinos have said that they had received their health care benefits from their employers rather than through the federal and state exchanges.

This was an interesting surprise because the ACA was initially created to help the economically poor and racial and ethnic minorities find the health care insurance package(s) they want. Only eight percent of all those Latinos surveyed said they had gotten their health care coverage through the exchanges. The other thing that has proved equally surprising is that many Latinos surveyed said they could not have coverage all the time in a given year. In other words, they went without health care coverage for a couple of months. There were a number of reasons for this—changing jobs or the inability to continue the current coverage they had. Some indicated that higher cost packages and that their premiums went up were also reasons why they did not have consistent coverage.

What it means is that while many Latinos have not exactly benefited from the ACA at this time, it has helped some to get health care they might not have received. The key question is will the ACA continue? If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the subsidies, then it is possible that the ACA will continue uninterrupted. If the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidies, then we will be in uncharted waters. A negative decision might also put Latinos in uncharted waters.

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