Chronically Ill Latinos Saw Slight Growth in Benefits from ACA; Gaps Remain


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Almost half of all the adults in the United States have at least one chronic medical condition. These conditions include many which disproportionately plague Latinos, such as diabetes and lung disease. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health coverage for chronically ill patients has increased by nearly 5%. While this has shown to be a significant gain, more work needs to be done.

A study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine studied adults between the ages of 18 and 64, the largest pool taking part in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“We wanted to see how many people were uninsured and clearly needed health insurance,” said Dr. Hugo Torres, of the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, MA in an interview with USA Today. “We know the prevalence of chronic diseases is going up, and about half of Americans have a chronic disease, and when I’m saying ‘chronic disease,’ we’re talking about things like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes.”

According to a 2014 study by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), there is high prevalence of chronic disease and multiple chronic diseases among Latino health center users; obesity and diabetes were found to be some of the main causes of these chronic conditions.

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It was found that in 2014, the first year the ACA health exchanges were implemented, insurance coverage rose by 4.9% among chronically ill patients. However, for Latinos dealing with chronic illness, the findings of the Cambridge study found that disparities still plagued them and kept them from coverage. Approximately 33% of all Latinos with a chronic disease continued to lack coverage.

“The immigration issue is important, particularly in the Hispanic community,” Torres said. “There are several barriers to immigrants getting care, including waiting periods for legal immigrants to obtain Medicaid and the banning of undocumented immigrants from obtaining insurance on the health exchanges.”

A lack of Latino doctors and the cost of medical care – co-payments, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs – also figured into the disparity in Latinos with chronic diseases obtaining coverage.

The deadline to apply for coverage for 2017 is January 31.

Read more about the study here.

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of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage

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