The new health reform law will significantly expand access to affordable health coverage, which is especially important to Latinos. In 2008, nearly 31% of Latinos were uninsured compared to national average for all racial and ethnic groups of 15% and 11% for non-Hispanic whites.
Health reform will expand coverage by doing several things: expanding Medicaid and creating new marketplaces. Under the new law, Medicaid coverage will be expanded to cover children and adults with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level – roughly $14,403 for an individual and $24,352 for a family of three in 2010.
Approximately 6.8 million Hispanics (not including undocumented individuals) will be newly eligible for Medicaid. This Medicaid expansion, which will go into effect in 2014, will provide coverage to many Latinos who would otherwise go without quality, affordable health coverage. Health reform will also increase funding to Puerto Rico for providing medical assistance for newly eligible adults.
The new law will also expand coverage through the creation of state health exchanges for individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid or who cannot get affordable coverage from their employer. To ensure that health insurance is affordable, the law will offer subsidies in the form of tax credits. Under the reform it is estimated that close to 6.1 million Hispanics will be eligible for these premium subsidies.
These historic coverage expansion should have a significant impact on Latinos with low or moderate incomes.