Previous studies have found that Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. are less likely to have insurance or to report a usual source of care than Mexican-Americans, other Latinos and non-Latino whites. But the Affordable Care Act may have made it easier for them to access healthcare when they need it, research shows.
More Latinos of Mexican heritage in California reported having health insurance and a usual source of care compared to other Latinos after the healthcare law's major provisions were implemented than before these provisions were put into place, according to the study published in Health Affairs.
The ACA was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. Most of the law's major provisions, however, such as the health insurance mandate, federal subsidies for health insurance and elimination of restrictions on pre-existing conditions, didn't go into effect until 2014 and mostly applied to U.S.-born and documented Latinos. All undocumented immigrants were excluded from the law.
Despite that, the authors said undocumented Latinos experienced marginal increases in health insurance coverage in California, perhaps because of the specific policies implemented at the state or local level.
The researchers attributed the small increase in the number of undocumented immigrants reporting they had health insurance and a usual source of care to the introduction, after the passage of the healthcare law, of state and local government programs offering health insurance to some undocumented people.
Researchers analyzed survey responses from more than 42,000 Latinos of Mexican heritage and more than 11,000 people of other Latino heritage. The data was taken from the California Health Interview Survey, which was conducted by the Center for Health Policy Research at the Fielding School and includes data from people in all 58 counties in California.
Before 2014-2016, 67.6 percent of Latinos of Mexican heritage reported having health insurance and 69.6 percent reported having a usual source of care.
After the major provisions of the law were implemented in 2014-2016, 77.8 percent of Latinos of Mexican heritage reported having health insurance and 73.2 reported having a usual source of care.
Even though the Affordable Care Act helped to reduce disparities between Latinos of Mexican heritage and other Latinos in California, one of the main takeaways of the study is that healthcare disparities between the two groups are still considerable because of legal status, income and English proficiency.