People of Color Have Gained Health Insurance Mostly Through Private Market

Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2015—Health insurance disparities between black and white children and between Asian Americans and whites were eliminated in 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act, a new analysis from the Center for Global Policy Solutions finds.

Obamacare Reduces Racial Disparities in Health Coverage,” by Dr. Algernon Austin, also found that people of color gained health insurance coverage primarily through private-market plans, which include those purchased on health insurance exchanges and employer-based plans. Whites gained insurance mostly through government programs.

“It is very rare to see a racial disparity eliminated, but the Affordable Care Act did that for African American children and for Asian Americans,” said Austin, who is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Global Policy Solutions. “I am concerned about the affordability of private insurance for people of color, though, since a large share of them are low-income. The best way to have both low uninsured rates and very small or no racial and ethnic disparities would be to expand Medicare to cover everyone.”

Percent of children uninsured by race, 2013 and 2014

Other findings include:

  • The disparity between Asian Americans and whites under 65 was reduced dramatically, to less than one percentage point in 2014.
  • Uninsured rates have been lowered for all racial and ethnic groups. American Indians and Hispanics had the biggest disparities with whites in 2014 (8.7 and 11.8 percentage points higher, respectively). The latter is due in part to the large share of undocumented immigrants, who are ineligible for ACA benefits.
  • American Indian children have the highest uninsured rate: 10.2 percent. Hispanic children are close to that, at 9.6 percent.
  • Unexpectedly, black people gained coverage through private insurance at the highest rate of all groups: by 4.9 percentage points more in 2014, compared with 2013.

“It’s important to acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act has resulted in access to lifesaving health care for all racial and ethnic groups but low-income individuals are still vulnerable, especially in those states that have refused to expand Medicaid,” said Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO of the Center for Global Policy Solutions. “We must do more to ensure universal access to healthcare.”

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The Center for Global Policy Solutions is a 501(c)(3) think tank and action organization that labors in pursuit of a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive world in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive in safe and sustainable environments.