As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Remember that Latinxs are Still Highest Uninsured in California

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Remember that Latinxs are Still Highest Uninsured in California

Latinxs are two times more likely to remain uninsured

Latinxs in California made significant gains following the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The number of California Latinxs who were uninsured decreased by 1.5 million, falling from 23 percent to 12 percent.  Nevertheless, the Latinx population continues to be the highest group of uninsured when compared with other racial and ethnic communities. In California, Latinxs are two times more likely than other nonelderly racial/ethnic groups to be uninsured even with full implementation of the ACA.

After ACA 13.7% of California’s Latinxs remain uninsured

Recent research has confirmed that nine years after the ACA became law 13.7 percent of California’s Latinxs remain uninsured. Of these, 21.6 percent of uninsured Latinxs (0-64 years old) who are eligible for Medi-Cal are not enrolled, and 76 percent of uninsured Latinx children (0-18 years old) qualify for Medi-Cal but are not enrolled. This lack of coverage has important implications for the well-being of Californians who are Latinxs.

People with limited English proficiency, work jobs less likely to provide insurance through employers

Various factors explain these disparities. Latinx, particularly those with limited English proficiency, work in industries or in jobs that are less likely to have insurance through an employer. They are more likely to be employed as domestic workers or in other informal job settings where there is no documented employment. Immigration status is also a major barrier. In addition, fear of national immigration policies may also have a chilling effect on enrollment.

Public charge rule, intimidates and stops Latinxs from enrolling

The new final public charge rule – yet another cruel policy by the current Trump Administration to confuse and intimidate immigrants – is going to deter Latinxs from enrolling in health insurance. For more than a century, immigration law has allowed officials to deny individuals admission to the U.S. or adjustment to lawful permanent residence status if they are “likely at any time to become a public charge.”  The prior policy defined a public charge as an individual who is primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.

Now, the Trump administration has issued a rule that dramatically expands the definition of “public charge” to include individuals who use Medicaid (with some exceptions), SNAP, and housing benefits. The National Health Law Program and other organizations have filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California to challenge this new senseless measure. Other cases have also been filed in other jurisdictions.

Public charge rule dissuades Latinx people from Medi-Cal enrollment

In addition to legal barriers, the rule will have chilling effects that will dissuade Latinx people from enrolling in Medi-Cal and programs that are not even subject to the public charge rule such as Covered California. This is in part due to the confusing rule changes, and the perpetuation of the xenophobic and racist origins of public charge, which were based on stereotypes of certain racial/ethnic groups of immigrants.

In January 2020, California will offer Medi-Cal to young adults under the age of 26 regardless of their immigration status

California is taking action to increase enrollment of Latinx people in health insurance, including Medi-Cal. Starting on January 1, 2020, California will offer full scope Medi-Cal to young adults under the age of 26 irrespective of their immigration status. To ensure successful implementation, the California Department of Health Care Services is working closely with advocates, including the National Health Law Program, as well as County Welfare Directors Association of California, county social services agencies, and Covered California. Although the threats are increasing at the federal level, the Golden State is trying to lessen the damage of these draconian policies.


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