Health coverage on the rise for hispanic kids in Colorado

Hispanic Boy And Girl Standing By Wall Making Peace Sign
The number of hispanic children covered by health insurance is on the rise in Colorado. But they are less likely to be covered than their peers.

DENVER – More Hispanic children in Colorado have health insurance, but they’re still lagging behind their peers, according to a new report by a Georgetown University research center and the National Council of La Raza.

The report found the number of Hispanic kids without coverage dropped from more than 50,000 in 2013 to nearly 37,000 in 2014. The uninsured rate for Hispanic children is still high, at 10 percent, compared with six percent for all other kids.

Mirna Ramirez-Castro, director with Servicios de La Raza, says the state is headed in the right direction, but more can be done.

“It’s not just the coverage but how do we get the community to use their benefits under preventive services and avoiding that emergency care cost,” says Ramirez-Castro. “So there’s still a lot of work to be done, not just in Colorado but nationally.”

She adds, nearly 93 percent of Hispanic children in Colorado have legal status and two-thirds are eligible for free or low-cost health insurance. But she says due to language barriers, and a persistent anti-immigrant atmosphere, many parents without legal status continue to be reluctant to enroll their kids.

The study found the number of Hispanic children nationally without insurance reached an historic low in 2014, the first year the Affordable Care Act took effect. Sonya Schwartz,policy fellow with Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, says a key to getting more kids covered is getting the word out before open enrollment closes at the end of January.

“We’re focusing a lot right now on the outreach and enrollment aspect, because this is the end of the open-enrollment period,” says Schwartz. “There are two more weeks for people to enroll in and state marketplaces. And so, we want to make sure that we reach all the remaining eligible but uninsured Hispanic kids.”

Schwartz notes that enrollment in Medicaid and Colorado’s CHP Plus is open year-round. She says removing barriers to enrollment and making coverage more affordable should be a top priority for policymakers who want to see all children succeed.

Photo credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto via Colorado News Connection