Latinos saw a 20-percentage-point drop in their uninsurance rate between 2010 and 2016 — the biggest decline of any ethnic group — as millions gained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, said Michelle McEvoy Doty in a Jan. 24 seminar hosted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Doty, vice president of survey research and evaluation for The Commonwealth Fund, said during the seminar “Trends in Health Insurance Coverage and Access to Care Among Latinos: Implications of an ACA Repeal” that national uninsurance rates for adult Latinos declined from 43.2 percent in 2010 to 24.8 percent in 2016. Despite that impressive gain, their rates are significantly higher than those of other ethnicities. The uninsurance rate is 8.7 percent for Whites and 14.8 percent for African-Americans.
Also, some segments of the Latino population didn’t benefit from ACA reforms as much as the overall group: 12 percent of US-born Latinos lacked insurance in 2016, compared to 39 percent of foreign-born Latinos, which includes those who are undocumented. And in states that did not expand their Medicaid program, the figure is 43 percent, Doty said, citing findings from The Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey.
Doty also looked at broader issues involving repeal of the ACA, such as steps Congress and the President have already taken to dismantle the law, and estimates of job and economic losses that could result from repeal of the ACA beyond loss of health coverage.
She talked about how international surveys show access to health care in the US lags compared to other industrialized nations, and noted one new, if ironic, finding from recent public opinion polls: “For the first time ever, people are actually showing positive feelings toward the Affordable Care Act.”
She cited Congressional Budget Office figures that showed the ACA reduced the uninsured population from 57 million before the ACA to 26 million after full implementation of the law.
Under a repeal of the ACA without a replacement, the country’s uninsured population next year would increase to an estimated 44 million. And in 10 years? 59 million.
“It will look like the ACA never happened,” Doty said.
Watch the seminar video here.