Hispanic and Latinx Americans may get left behind during the next enrollment period for health insurance. According to USA Today, the Trump administration’s reduced regulation of the health insurance marketplace could reverse advancements made by activists to cover a greater number of those in the Latinx community.
During the Obama administration, there were significant outreach efforts made within the Affordable Care Act marketplace to cover those in the Latinx community. This was because of the high rate of those uninsured in the community and also because of the high percentage of healthy young adults.
As a result of the outreach efforts, up to one million Hispanic and Latinx people enrolled in health care plans for 2017. What’s more is that, as of 2016, the rate of uninsured Latinx people decreased from 43% to 25% showing the significant value of the Obama administration’s outreach efforts.
However, under the Trump administration, outreach efforts toward the Latinx and Hispanic communities won’t be made by marketplace insurances. In addition, the enrollment period has been cut back a month and a half and federal funding for navigation groups has also been reduced.
“We’re getting ready, because we know it’s going to be a difficult open enrollment period,” said Claudia Maldonado, the program director for the Keogh Health Connection in Phoenix, AZ. The KHC works to bridge the gap between health services and those Americans who are underserved.
The enrollment period for marketplace health insurance applications begins Wednesday, November 1 and ends Friday, December 15. Not only is the health insurance enrollment period shorter than last year, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced that websites dedicated to the federal online insurance marketplaces would also be down for half the day on Sundays throughout the period.
According to the director of health services for the Community Council of Greater Dallas, Daniel Bouton, the Sunday maintenance for these websites is unfortunate because it’s Sundays on which many Latinx and Hispanic families are together at Church where they’ve been enrolled in health insurance by the Council for years.
Members of Congress who are also a part of the Hispanic and Latinx communities have sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking for greater enrollment outreach. Unfortunately, a meeting between the caucus and the HHS never took place as planned.
A loss of health insurance coverage increases the risk of drastically high medical costs in the event of an illness or injury, which is more common than many Americans think. Up to 25,000 people in the U.S. suffer from an ankle sprain every day. However, it isn’t only a lack of outreach preventing Latinx families from applying for health insurance. Many families in the U.S. are made up of mixed immigration status, stoking the fear of deportation.
“Since the new government took office, when raids increased and the legal status of ‘Dreamers’ (young people brought to the U.S. while children) was in jeopardy, people started canceling their appointments with the navigators, and stopped enrolling their children in Medicaid or CHIP,” said Bouton.
However, these drawbacks in outreach efforts aren’t slowing down community activists and other navigators. “We keep making calls,” said Maldonado. “We have the same goal of registering more people.”