In the second open enrollment period that just ended, one million more people of color signed up for marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act than enrolled during the first year. This achievement is thanks in large part to the more than 20,000 thousand navigators and assisters around the country who offered in-person assistance in communities of color. But we’re far from achieving equity when it comes to health coverage. Here we share recommendations to make improving enrollment efforts in communities of color a priority.
Health care advocates across the nation are celebrating the milestone of nearly 11.7 million Americans gaining health insurance through the second open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, the latest enrollment numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have led some to characterize enrollment of communities of color as “lagging.” What is getting less attention is the new HHS data showing a huge reduction in the disproportionately high rates of uninsured people of color.
With the February 15 deadline for the second open enrollment period quickly approaching, local and national groups across the country have been intensifying their efforts to get the word out through various channels. Last week, the White House, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), HHS, and community partners held a very successful Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affordable Care Act Enrollment Week of Action.
The Health Equity and Accountability Act: Improving Collection of Racial and Ethnic Data to Reduce Health Disparities
Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to suffer from disparities in health status and their access to quality health care. Health advocates have long argued that one key prerequisite to lessening these disparities (achieving health equity) is to quantify the problem through better data collection and analysis across the health care field. The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), which sets out a comprehensive and ambitious strategy to tackle health disparities, would also make big improvements to data collection.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans can afford quality health insurance. However, having health insurance does not always equal having access to high-quality health care. This is especially true for people of color, who historically have had to grapple with racial and ethnic health disparities. Many people of color continue to face barriers to obtaining high-quality health care, and our nation’s health is closely tied to addressing these obstacles.
Last week, Rep. Lucile Roybal-Allard, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s health task force, introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2014. This legislation is the latest effort by the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus to enact a comprehensive plan to eliminate the health disparities that plague communities of color and other groups. In every legislative session since 2003, lawmakers have introduced similar bills seeking to improve health outcomes for minority groups.
The success of the Affordable Care Act’s first enrollment period is clear: More than 8 million people have signed up for health insurance coverage through the health insurance marketplaces since last October. Among different racial and ethnic groups, however, increases in health insurance coverage varied widely. African and Asian Americans enrolled at relatively high rates, while Hispanic enrollment was lower. The results from the first enrollment period tell us that minority enrollment is on the upswing, but there is more work to do.
Federal Laws Prohibit Government from Using Health Insurance Application Information for Deportation
As the March 31 deadline approaches for enrolling in health insurance in the marketplace, we would like to address one concern that could be unnecessarily holding back hundreds of thousands of families: fear of deportation.
Many families are concerned that in an effort to do the right and responsible thing—enrolling their (eligible) family members in health coverage—they will inadvertently cause someone else in the family to get deported. These families are known as “mixed status” families because they include people with different immigration statuses.
According to new data released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Latinos—the racial and ethnic group with the highest uninsured rate in the nation—have much to gain from the Affordable Care Act. And yet, anecdotal evidence suggests that this population is not enrolling for health coverage at the level that one would expect for a group with such high numbers of uninsured.
The Affordable Care Act is a Historic Opportunity to Advance Health Care Justice for African-Americans
As we celebrate Black History Month and remember the contributions of African-Americans throughout our nation's history, it's important to also focus on the work that still lies ahead to achieve racial justice.
Decades ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."
Despite the progress we have made, African-Americans and other people of color still struggle daily with unjust, and sometimes deadly, health care inequality.