This is Part Two on the benefits of the new health reform law to Latinos. The new health reform law will significantly expand access to affordable health coverage to the nearly 31% of Latinos that were uninsured and expand coverage for those under insured. In this segment Families USA look at how the new law eliminates discrimination due to pre-existing conditions and increases funding for community health centers.
The new law offers critical protections to individuals, including many Latinos, who have pre-existing conditions today—as well as to those who are healthy now but who may develop a health problem as they grow older. Under health reform, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied coverage, charged a higher premium, or sold a policy that excludes coverage of essential health benefits simply because he or she has a pre-existing condition, such as cancer or obesity. According to a recent report by Families USA, more than one in six non-elderly Latinos (16.9 percent) has a condition that, without health reform, could lead to a denial of coverage.
Community health centers play a critical role in expanding access by serving as a trusted safety net, especially for communities of color. Typically located in medically underserved areas, community health centers provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care to all residents regardless of insurance status, citizenship status, or ability to pay. Compared to other populations, Latinos disproportionately use community health centers as their source of primary and preventive care. For example, of those who used community health centers in 2008, approximately 33 percent were Latino.7 Beginning in fiscal year 2011 and continuing through 2015, the health reform law will provide $11 billion to community health centers for the services they provide and for construction and renovation.
Undocumented immigrants will remain ineligible for public benefits and will be barred from purchasing insurance through the exchanges. Community health centers, therefore, will continue to play a critical role as the safety net for our most vulnerable populations, including those who will continue to lack access to care.