Health insurance coverage among black and Hispanic Americans saw some big improvements last year

The proportion of black and Hispanic-Americans without health insurance was greatly reduced in 2014, the first year of the Affordable Care Act, according to a CDC report released today. The US also saw a significant reduction in the proportion of Hispanics who didn't obtain medical care due to the high cost of that care. Taken together, the findings indicate that the US made important strides last year in terms of reducing the racial disparities that have plagued the country's health care system for so long — even if tremendous gaps remain.
Black Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for cancer, and they're 40 percent more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than white Americans. In addition, Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults are more likely to suffer from diabetes compared with white and Asian adults. That's why this new CDC data is so important; it shows that the US is starting to reduce the health care imbalances that exist between people of color and white people in the US.
Overall, the biggest change in the rate of uninsured took place among Hispanic and black Americans. In 2014, the proportion of black and Hispanic adults without health insurance was reduced to 17 and 34 percent, respectively, down from 25 percent for black Americans and 41 percent for Hispanics in 2013. And the percentage of Hispanic-Americans aged 18 to 64 who saw a health care professional in the last 12 months rose to 70 percent from 68 percent — the only change in that category that was deemed statistically significant.
That said, a lot of things didn't change. Health care access remained largely the same for black and Asian adults in 2014. And despite the new health care law, the percentage of people who saw a health care professional in 2014 didn't budge significantly for white, black, or Asian adults.
The fact that the number of uninsured Americans was greatly reduced in the wake of the Affordable Care Act isn't entirely new information. At the end of 2014, private sector surveys and a government report showed that the number of Americans without health insurance had been reduced by 25 percent in a single year. That means that over 8 million people signed up for health insurance in 2014. But breaking down the data by race helps put that change into perspective.
Despite efforts by the US government, 34 percent of Hispanics and 17 percent of black people still didn't have health care coverage in 2014, compared with 12 percent of white Americans and 12 percent of Asian Americans. And in 2014, Hispanics were still far more likely to have trouble gaining access to health care services compared with white people. That means that making sure people of color have options for accessing health care services should remain a priority.