Health care disparities are much higher in black and Latino communities than in any others, according to statistics that have been cited for over a decade. But recently revealed stat-based research featured positive results.
According to a study published by The Commonwealth Fund in August, the number of uninsured blacks and Latinos decreased under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — or, as it’s nationally known, Obamacare.
As NBC recently reported, the study reveals that the numbers declined within the first two years of the Obamacare coverage expansion.
“From 2013 and 2015, the uninsured rate among blacks between ages 19-64 dropped 9 percent, and dropped 12 percent among uninsured Latinos ages 19-64, the study showed. The rate of uninsured whites dropped 5 percent. The disparity among uninsured blacks and whites also narrowed by 4 percent and among Latinos and whites narrowed 7 percent,” according to the article.
“If we are going to reduce these disparities, we must continue to focus on policies like expanding eligibility for Medicaid that will address our health care system’s historic inequities,” Pamela Riley, vice president of The Commonwealth Fund’s Delivery System Reform and a co-author of the report, said in a statement.
The ACA was enacted by the 111th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. When the health care law was passed, states were required to provide Medicaid coverage for all adults ages 18 to 65 who hold incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
States also have the option to expand Medicaid beyond the minimum federal guidelines and eligibility requirements. After Obamacare was enacted, many states declined Medicaid expansion, which made health care coverage hard to obtain for many individuals.
But for those states that participated, the results were evident in communities of color.
“Uninsured Latino adults dropped 14 percent in states that expanded Medicaid coverage compared to 11 percent in states that did not. The number of uninsured black adults meanwhile fell 9 percent in states both with and without Medicaid expansion,” NBC reported.
Having insurance coverage also encouraged more people to go to the doctor. The study revealed that blacks who reported that they did not see a doctor because of medical cost decreased from 21 percent to 17 percent once they were insured. For Latino adults, the decrease was from 27 percent to 22 percent.
“By 2015, the disparity between black adults and white adults without a usual source of health care narrowed from 8 percent to 5 percent. It narrowed even more for Latinos compared to whites — 24 percent to 21 percent,” the report found.
Click here to read the entire analysis by The Commonwealth Fund.