With gains in health coverage, Latino children also gain more equitable opportunities.

By Steven Lopez, Health Policy Project, NCLR and Sonya Scwhartz, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

Our new report with National Council of La Raza finds that the uninsured rate for Hispanic kids hit a historic low and the coverage gap between Hispanic kids and their peers narrowed considerably in 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. Credit for this success goes to the ACA, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and actions by states to help connect more Hispanic kids with coverage.

coverage_gap_narrowingThis is great news for Hispanic kids and for our nation as a whole. Hispanic children are a vital part of our nation’s future. They are the fastest-growing segment of the population—growing from one in four children today to one in three children by 2050—and will be our nation’s future doctors, teachers, and workers. A new body of research underscores the importance of affordable, high-quality health coverage during childhood. Having health coverage is linked to school success, better health throughout childhood, and improved financial security for families.

Despite these gains, about 1.7 million Hispanic children still go without health coverage and Hispanic children continue to be more likely to be uninsured than other children. And health coverage inequities for Hispanic children remain. An estimated 9.7% of Hispanic children were uninsured in 2014 compared to 6% of all children. These figures underscore the importance of closing this coverage gap.

The good news is that we can continue to make a dent in these numbers. Sixty-six percent of uninsured Hispanic children are estimated to be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but unenrolled. Even though the vast majority (93%) of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, they lag behind other American children when it comes to health insurance because their families face multiple barriers to enrollment. These barriers include language access challenges, worries about immigration-related consequences for their family members, and the complexity of eligibility rules.

In these last weeks of open enrollment for HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces, we have a great opportunity to reach our community and encourage parents to enroll for coverage along with their children. And we can continue to encourage families to enroll their kids in Medicaid and CHIP all year long. Through these efforts, more Hispanic children will not only gain health coverage but a more equitable opportunity for success in school, work, and as participants in society at large.

Share this information with any families you know who may be eligible for coverage. Remember: open enrollment for the marketplace ends on January 31, but Medicaid and CHIP are open for coverage all year! For more information, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call (877) KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669).