Latinos between the ages of 50 and 64 in Colorado lack health insurance at rates higher than any other group in the state. And that is extremely disheartening because all Coloradans should have the same access to affordable health care.
However, recent policy changes can help Colorado Hispanics get the coverage they desperately need. But we must be diligent in sharing this information with all our contacts in every corner of the state to ensure Latinos, as well as all Coloradans, are covered.
Two recent policy changes could help older Coloradans, ages 50-64, purchase affordable coverage.
A provision of the federal American Rescue Plan Act caps the amount an individual pays for health insurance in the marketplace at 8.5% of income for two years. Also, a new special enrollment period available now will allow all Coloradans to purchase marketplace health coverage until Aug. 15.
That is an extension of the health-care insurance enrollment period that typically ends on May 15. In Colorado, as many as 158,000 adults ages 50 to 64 could potentially be helped by the new special enrollment period and expanded premium tax credits.
In addition, beginning in early July, consumers who have received or were eligible for unemployment insurance benefits for any week during 2021 may be eligible for more premium savings, either when enrolling in a marketplace plan for the first time or if they update their existing coverage.
AARP Colorado has begun an informational campaign to let older adults know about the special enrollment period and new subsidies that could greatly reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans. Visit AARP.org/ACA and en Español AARP.org/SeguroACA for more information about how to get health insurance during this period.
AARP Colorado is focused on reaching out to the Hispanic community about these changes because our state’s Latino population lacks health insurance more than any other segment of our population.
In 2019, about 20,134 Latinos between 50 and 64 years of age lacked health insurance coverage in Colorado. That is 12.8% of Colorado Latinos, compared with only 6.9% of non-Hispanic Whites who had no health insurance, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute.
In fact, far more Latinos than Asian (9.9 %), American Indian (7.3%) and Black (6.8%) adults ages 50-64 are uninsured in our state.
There are many pieces to this puzzle of disparity. Some of the reasons include language barriers; a long history of educational and other socioeconomic factors; suspicions of public or governmental agencies and other entities; and a lack of accurate, reliable information, especially in rural and other difficult-to-reach areas.
While the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of Colorado Latinos ages 50 to 64 who lack health insurance, many remain unable to afford an individual policy.
We should all push to ensure that all older Latinos, as well as Coloradans as a whole, who lack health coverage know that these new subsidies are available and that health coverage, which was previously unaffordable, can now be budgeted for older adults and their families.
Angela Cortez is communications director of AARP Colorado.
CORRECTION: This essay was revised on May 6 to say that in Colorado, as many as 158,000 adults ages 50 to 64 could potentially be helped by the new special enrollment period and expanded premium tax credits. An earlier version erroneously said that many older adults could be helped nationwide.
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