The PPACA and healthcare disparities: 10 things to know

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may have boosted health insurance coverage, but it has had little effect on the racial and socioeconomic health disparities that exist in the U.S., according to report from the Alliance for a Just Society.

The report — which is the result of a survey of 1,200 low-income people in 10 states, conducted in Spanish, Cantonese and English over the course of a year — revealed how access to technology, language barriers, immigration concerns and the price of insurance premiums presented barriers for many Americans.

Highlighted below are 10 findings from the report.

  1. African-American (47.7 percent), Native American (40.5 percent) and Latino (41.6 percent) survey respondents had significantly less access to the Internet at home than did white Americans (77.5 percent), making enrolling in coverage online more difficult.

  2. An email address was required to enroll in coverage online, which is the main way most Americans have signed up for plans, but only 33.2 percent of Latino respondents had email addresses, followed by less than 50 percent of black respondents.

  3. Latinos have the highest rate of uninsurance of all ethnic groups in the U.S., so government healthcare agencies poured resources into efforts encouraging them to enroll, yet one in four Latinos hadn't heard of the PPACA's healthcare exchanges.

  4. Roughly 13.3 percent of Latino respondents and 22.2 percent of Native Hawaiian or Asian-Pacific Islanders who did not speak English at home were unable to enroll in their own language.

  5. Many Latino respondents expressed reluctance to enrolling in coverage for fear of endangering the status of family members who may be in the country illegally.

  6. Even survey respondents who did get coverage under the PPACA encountered issues: Their top four enrollment problems were cost of insurance options (13 percent), language issues (12 percent), total time required for the application/enrollment process (11 percent) and difficulties with the online program (10 percent).

  7. Native Hawaiian or Asian-Pacific Islander respondents (75 percent) received significantly more help enrolling than some other ethnic groups, including African-Americans (45.9 percent), Latinos (54.8 percent), people of mixed race (42.9 percent), and Native Americans or Alaska Natives (50 percent).

  8. The percentage of respondents who were informed that financial support was available for low-income people ranged from 20 percent (Native American or Alaska Native) to 62.4 percent (Latino).

  9. Nearly 83 percent of white participants reported have a personal physician, considerably more than African Americans (69 percent), Latinos (67.2 percent), people of mixed race (68 percent), Native Americans or Alaska Natives (45 percent), or Native Hawaiians or Asian-Pacific Islanders (73.1 percent).

  10. According to the survey, 25.2 percent of Latinos haven't seen a physician in a year, compared with 17.9 percent of whites.

To read the full report, click here.



More articles on disparities:
Poor, minority patients access patient portals less frequently
Clinical decisions unaffected by unconscious racial, social class biases, survey finds
Study: Integrated care may eliminate racial disparity in cancer survival

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