April 23, 2015
By Mario Carrasco
According to Obamacare Facts, up to 47 million Americans were uninsured before the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That changed during the 2014 open enrollment period when 8 million Americans enrolled in marketplace plans. And with a more stable website and additional resources on the street, it is estimated that 11.7 million enrolled during the 2015 window, including 4.5 million who re-enrolled from 2014.
Within those numbers are Hispanics, a major factor in determining the success of the ACA. While it’s widely known that Hispanics make up about 18% of the U.S. population, you may not be aware that Hispanics accounted for more than 30% of the uninsured in the U.S. before the ACA.
But now, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ACA is benefiting Hispanic families in terms of affordability, accessibility, and quality of healthcare.
However, a recent study tracking Hispanic consumers’ opinion and acceptance related to health insurance and measuring it against other ethnicities (White, African-American, and Asian) presented some interesting findings, of which the most prevalent was that questions and concerns about the ACA still remain.
Source of Insurance
When Hispanics were asked if they currently had health insurance, 77% said yes in November 2013. That number rose to 83% last month, lowering the number of uninsured Hispanics from 20% to 16%.
At the same time, the source of that insurance has changed considerably with findings showing that respondents who got their insurance from their employer in November 2013 declined last month, from 42% to 36%.
More than any other ethnic group, 11% of Hispanics stated that they got their insurance through either the federal or a state ACA exchange this year.
Interestingly, while the trend has been moving away from their employer as a source of insurance and toward the ACA, Hispanics’ overall satisfaction with their health insurance has also shifted.
When asked, “How satisfied are you with the health insurance you currently have?”
In November 2013, 89% said “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.”
In May 2014, that dropped to 84%
And last month, it fell to 81%
Bottom line: More Hispanics now have health insurance, but, according to the study, their experience with it, thus far, has been less than ideal.
When comparing consumer sentiment toward the ACA across ethnicities, the results varied greatly:
While acceptance and enrollment in the ACA continues to grow, there are still questions surrounding it in the Hispanic community. Such as:
How to sign up for Marketplace plans, through the federal website or a state-sponsored site?
33% of Hispanics are unsure, compared to 45% for Whites, 40% for African-Americans, and 30% for Asians
What are the fines and penalties associated with not being insured?
40% of Hispanics don’t understand, compared to 47% for Whites, 50% for African-Americans, and 43% for Asians
The Final Count
With nearly 12 million subscribers on the books, perhaps the worst is behind us and the ACA will continue to be a source of affordable insurance for the millions of Americans still left uninsured.
But for those who have enrolled through the marketplaces, the findings from the study suggest that there needs to be an increased focus on the “consumer experience.” Having millions of “dissatisfied insureds” works against widespread adoption of the ACA just as much as a website that continues to crash.
And if the mandate is that every American have health insurance or incur penalties, then every effort must be made to educate consumers and employers on what the expectations are, how to meet requirements, and what triggers the penalties. As the program evolves and changes are made, everyone should be updated in a timely manner to help improve compliance.
Because making sure everyone has some level of health insurance is generally considered a good strategy. However, how the strategy is executed is what earns you a pass or fail.
Source: Media Post