Examining Health Insurance Coverage Disparities by Race and Ethnicity

Health data privacy

 The KFF report on Health Coverage by Race and Ethnicity underscores the crucial role of health insurance coverage in accessing healthcare services and mitigating excessive medical expenses. This blog post summarizes the report’s findings.

Persistent Disparities in Coverage

The KFF report reveals that disparities in coverage have been entrenched over time and, in some instances, have widened despite previous gains under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • From 2010 to 2022, the uninsured rate among American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) individuals increased from 2.5 times higher than that of White individuals to 2.9 times higher.
  • Similarly, Hispanic and Black individuals remained disproportionately more likely to be uninsured compared to their White counterparts.

Advancements during COVID-19 But Still Problematic

Notable improvements in health coverage were observed across various racial and ethnic groups between 2019 and 2022. These improvements primarily resulted from state and federal efforts to ensure affordable coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • These efforts narrowed the gap in uninsured rates between Hispanic, Black, and AIAN individuals compared to their White counterparts.
  • However, disparities in coverage persisted as of 2022, with nonelderly AIAN and Hispanic individuals exhibiting the highest uninsured rates.

High Uninsured Rates for Black and Hispanic Individuals Persist Even in Medicaid Expansion States

States that expanded Medicaid, as highlighted in the KFF report, witnessed lower uninsured rates across racial and ethnic groups than non-expansion states.

  • However, the relative likelihood of Black and Hispanic individuals being uninsured as compared to White individuals remained consistent across both expansion and non-expansion states, underscoring ongoing systemic challenges.

Risks of Disenrollment from Medicaid Unwinding

The KFF report emphasizes concerns about potential disenrollment following the unwinding of Medicaid continuous enrollment post-pandemic. This raises concerns about its disproportionate impact on Hispanic, Black, AIAN, and NHOPI individuals, as highlighted in the report. Disenrolled individuals may face challenges accessing alternative coverage options, potentially exacerbating existing disparities.

Addressing Coverage Disparities

The report highlights the following to prevent coverage losses and narrow disparities:

  • Policies that stabilize coverage
  • Enhanced outreach and enrollment efforts
  • Policies that provide continuous coverage for vulnerable populations, particularly children
  • Increasing Medicaid expansion across states

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