The Affordable Care Act and Latinos

The Affordable Care Act is making health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans. For Latinos, like other ethnic minorities, the law addresses inequities in access to quality, affordable health coverage. The Affordable Care Act invests in prevention and wellness, and gives individuals and families more control over their care.

Latinos suffer from certain illnesses at higher rates than non-Hispanic white Americans. Roughly 31.9 percent of Latinos were obese in 2010, compared to 26.1 percent of whites, with the disparity greater among women (33.1 percent compared to 24.5 percent) [1]. While Latinos are less likely to have heart disease compared to non-Hispanic whites primarily due to their young median age, they face higher rates of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease such as obesity and diabetes [2]. Latina women have disproportionate rates of cervical cancer, which they contract at 1.6 times the rate of white women [3]. Only 46.5 percent of Latinos received a colorectal cancer screening in 2010, compared with 59.9 percent of non-Hispanics [4].

At the same time Latinos are one of America’s most disproportionately uninsured populations. As many as 1 in 4 uninsured individuals who are eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace nationwide are Latino.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, 10.2 million uninsured Latinos have new opportunities for affordable health insurance coverage. The majority, or 8 out of 10 (8.1 million out of 10.2 million), of eligible uninsured Latinos may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or lower costs on monthly premiums through the Marketplace.

Although the annual enrollment period to get private coverage in the Marketplace is closed for 2014, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program is open year round.  Members of immigrant families may qualify for Medicaid and CHIP coverage. 26 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid so far, with the federal government providing 100% of the funds for the “newly eligible” for the next three years, and never less than 90% after that. If all states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of uninsured Latinos might qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums in the Marketplace. Visit to learn more, or if you prefer Spanish.

Many immigrant families are of “mixed status,” with members having different immigration and citizenship statuses. “Mixed status” families can apply for Medicaid and CHIP coverage or a tax credit or lower out-of-pocket costs for private insurance for their dependent family members who are eligible. People without lawful immigration presence are not eligible to enroll in the Marketplace.  It is important to note that information provided by applicants or beneficiaries won’t be used for immigration enforcement purposes.  Also, applying for Medicaid or CHIP, or getting help with health insurance costs in the Marketplace, does not generally make someone a “public charge.” It will not affect someone’s chances of becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen.

Millions of Latinos across the country are already benefiting from the stronger coverage and consumer protections made possible by the Affordable Care Act:

  • 8.8 million Latinos with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost sharing. This includes services such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, flu shots for all children and adults, and many more.
  • Private plans in the Marketplace are required to cover 10 essential health benefit categories, including maternity and newborn care. 278,000 Latina women in the individual market alone are projected to gain maternity coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
  • An estimated 4.9 million Latina women with private health insurance now have guaranteed access to women’s preventive services without cost sharing. These services include well-woman visits, HPV testing, counseling services, breastfeeding support, mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services.
  • 3.9 million elderly and disabled Latinos who receive health coverage from Medicare have access to many preventive services with no cost-sharing, including annual wellness visits with personalized prevention plans, colorectal cancer and obesity screening, and mammograms.
  • 913,000 Latino young adults between ages 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured, including 375,000 Latina women, now have coverage under their parents’ employer-sponsored or individually purchased health plan.
  • About 11.8 million Latinos, including 4.4 million Latina women, no longer have lifetime limits on their health insurance plans thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Major federal investments to improve quality of care are improving management of chronic diseases that are more prevalent among Latinos.
  • The health care workforce is more diverse due to a more than doubling of the National Health Service Corps. Latino physicians make up about 10 percent of the Corps, a percentage that greatly exceeds their 5 percent share of the national physician workforce.
  • Investments in data collection and research will help us better understand the causes of health care disparities and develop effective programs to eliminate them.
  • Increased funding available to the nearly 1,300 community health centers will increase the number of patients served. One of every three patients at a health center is Latino.

Posted on: April 10, 2012






Content last reviewed on October 1, 2014