Pension & Benefits News ACA narrowed racial and ethnic gaps in access to health care, but progress has stalled
Thursday, January 30, 2020

ACA narrowed racial and ethnic gaps in access to health care, but progress has stalled

By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has led to historic improvements in access to health care for black and Hispanic adults in the U.S., while also reducing disparities with white adults, according to research from the Commonwealth Fund. However, the report, How the Affordable Care Act Has Narrowed Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Health Care, found that progress has stalled since 2016 and eroded in some cases.

The Commonwealth Fund found that the ACA has led to historic gains in health coverage in the U.S.—particularly for black and Hispanic adults. The uninsured rate for black adults dropped from 24.4 percent in 2013 to 14.4 percent in 2018, while the rate for Hispanic adults decreased from 40.2 percent to 24.9 percent. This reduced the disparity with white adults by 4.1 and 9.4 percentage points, respectively.

Fewer black and Hispanic adults skip needed health care because of costs. Approximately 23 percent of black adults in 2013 said they avoided getting care because of the cost, compared to 17.6 percent in 2018. Cost-related access problems among Hispanic adults fell from 27.8 percent to 21.2 percent. This progress reduced differences with white adults. Most of this improvement also occurred between 2013 and 2016.

According to the report, coverage gains for blacks and Hispanics, however, have stalled or even eroded since 2016, as they have for the U.S. population overall. Black adults have seen their uninsured rate tick up by 0.7 percentage points since 2016, while white adults have seen a half-point increase. This has largely halted the narrowing of racial coverage gaps.


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