The Affordable Care Act and Latinos

The Affordable Care Act is working in terms of affordability, access and quality for Latino families, seniors, businesses and taxpayers. This includes Latinos who were previously uninsured and Latinos who had insurance that didn’t provide them with adequate coverage and financial security.

Latino families have more security, and many of those who already had insurance now have better coverage. Fewer Americans are uninsured. At the same time, as a country, we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely and we’re starting to receive higher quality care.

Health insurance coverage is now more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans. The Affordable Care Act invests in prevention and wellness, and gives individuals and families more control over their care. Under the law, women can no longer be charged more than men for health insurance premiums or denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, and the Affordable Care Act gives women access to maternity benefits and preventive services.

In addition, the law addresses disparities in access to quality, affordable health coverage.

Addressing Health Disparities

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 non-Hispanic whites, with a greater disparity 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 younger median age, they face higher rates of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease, such as obesity and diabetes2. Latina women have disproportionate rates of cervical cancer, which they contract at 1.6 times the rate of white women3. Only 46.5 percent of Latinos received a colorectal cancer screening in 2010, compared with 59.9 percent of non-Hispanics whites4.At the same time Latinos are one of America’s most disproportionately uninsured populations.
  • As many as 1 in 4 of the U.S. uninsured population is Latino.

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, and flu shots for all children and adults.
  • Private plans in the Marketplace are required to cover 10 essential health benefit categories, including recommended preventive services, prescription drugs, mental health and substance use disorder services, maternity and newborn care and many more. Over 278,000 Latinos in the individual market alone are projected to gain maternity coverage under 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, breastfeeding support and counseling, mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services.
  • 913,000 Latino adults between ages 19 and 26 who would have been uninsured, including 375,000 women, now have coverage under their parents’ employer-sponsored or individually purchased health insurance plan.
  • About 11.8 million Hispanics, including 4.4 million Latina women, no longer have lifetime or annual limits on their health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Major federal investments in 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 16 percent of Corps physicians, 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 address them.
  • The $11 billion in the Affordable Care Act for nearly 1,300 health centers has increased the number of patients served by nearly 5 million. One of every three patients at a health center is Latino. Health centers provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate care.

Getting Covered

  • As of June 2014, 2.6 million Latinos (ages 18-64) gained health insurance coverage since the start of the Affordable Care Act initial open enrollment period in October 2013, a 7.7 percentage point drop in the uninsured rate over that period.  
  • Consumers have access to health insurance that fits their needs and budget through the Health Insurance Marketplace. All plans in the Marketplace cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, recommended preventive care and more. Open enrollment begins November 15, 2014 and ends on February 15, 2015. Enroll by December 15, 2014 for coverage that starts January 1, 2015.
  • Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is open year round. Members of immigrant families lawfully residing in the US may qualify for Medicaid and CHIP coverage, if they meet the eligibility criteria in that state; if they don’t, they may qualify for Marketplace coverage and assistance. And so far, twenty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have expanded their Medicaid programs to extend eligibility to more individuals. If all states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of eligible uninsured Latinos might qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or programs to help lower the cost of health insurance coverage in the Marketplace.
  • Many immigrant families are of “mixed status,” with members having different immigration and citizenship statuses. “Mixed status” families can apply for Medicaid and CHIP or for coverage through the Marketplace, where dependent family members may be eligible for programs that help lower the cost of Marketplace health insurance coverage. People without lawful immigration status are not eligible to enroll in the Marketplace. Medicaid provides payment for treatment for an emergency medical condition for individuals who do not meet the citizenship or immigration status requirements for Medicaid and are otherwise eligible for Medicaid in the state.  It is important to note that information provided by applicants or beneficiaries will not be used for immigration enforcement purposes.  Federal and state Marketplaces and state Medicaid and CHIP agencies cannot require applicants to provide information about the citizenship or status of any family or household member who is not applying for coverage. Therefore, mixed status families should not be afraid to enroll their family members in coverage. Also, applying for Medicaid or CHIP, or getting help with health insurance costs in the Marketplace, does not make someone a “public charge.” And it will not affect their chances of becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen.
  • For more information on the Marketplace, Medicaid, and CHIP, visit or call 1-800-312-2596 to learn more, or if you prefer Spanish language. If you have questions or need to find someone who can help you in person, find local help at: Or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. Translation services are available. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325. The call is free.

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Content created by Assist. Sec./Public Affairs - Digital Communications Division
Content last reviewed on November 5, 2014