Beginning September 15, we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, recognizing the Latino community’s contributions to the cultural richness and diversity of the United States. This year, the theme, “Hispanics: Serving and leading Our Nation with Pride and Honor,” highlights how Latinos have helped shape and strengthen all aspects of our society – from industry and research, to faith, education, arts and entertainment, and health.
Despite their great contributions to our country, Hispanic Americans are one of the largest uninsured populations in the nation.
Too many Latinos live sicker and die younger than they should. They are less likely to have access to quality health care and are less likely to get the preventive services they need to stay healthy. They disproportionately suffer from chronic and infectious diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, HIV/ AIDS, and cervical cancer.
The Affordable Care Act is making significant progress toward ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to get health care that will make it easier to reach their full potential.
Because of the health care law, 10.2 million uninsured Latinos will be eligible for quality, affordable coverage. Increasing access to affordable coverage for Latinos will have the powerful effect of reducing the significant health disparities the Latino community has faced for decades.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of uninsured Americans, including Latinos, will be able to compare and sign up for affordable quality health coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning in October, with coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014. They’ll also be able to find out if they are eligible for assistance to help pay the premiums or other costs.
This is good news for Hispanic Americans like Hilda, a young Latina from Philadelphia I recently met who was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, and couldn’t afford health insurance on her own. She told me how the Affordable Care Act allowed her to stay covered through her parent’s plan. But, when she aged out of the health plan at 26, her job as a legal assistant did not provide health insurance. Now, Hilda says, she’s looking forward to October when she can sign up for a plan that she can afford.
We are already seeing progress because of the Affordable Care Act’s new benefits and protections. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act:
• More than 12 million Hispanic Americans with private insurance or Medicare coverage now have access to expanded preventive services, such as flu shots, cholesterol screenings, and mammograms, at no out-of-pocket charge. • Nearly 1 million young Latino adults who would have been uninsured now are covered by their parent’s plan.
• More community health centers, where one in three patients is Latino, are in underserved communities offering more primary care and behavioral health services.
• More promotores, or community health workers, are working to increase our reach to Latino communities about resources to help them lead healthy lives. But while we can celebrate the progress, there is more work ahead.
We need to ensure that hard-working Hispanic Americans know about the new health coverage options available to them when the Marketplace opens in October.
That is why Latino organizations are becoming Champions of Coverage and joining health centers, libraries, and others across the country to get the word out to families, friends, and neighbors about signing up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud. gov.
The stories of Hilda and millions of other Hispanic Americans remind us that our work to promote health and wellness in the Latino community continues. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we reaffirm our commitment to eliminate health disparities for all racial and ethnic minorities and celebrate the opportunities made possible by the Affordable Care Act today and in the future.