Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra called on Hispanic Americans to sign up for medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in order to take advantage of a special enrollment period and low premiums.
In a call with reporters Wednesday, Becerra said his department's top priority is "helping the community take advantage of reduced costs on health care."
Hispanic Americans are disproportionately uninsured — about one-fifth of the population in the U.S. lack medical coverage, which is about two-and-a-half times the uninsured rate of white Americans.
The health care effects of the pandemic have also disproportionately hit Hispanic Americans, particularly Hispanic families.
According to Janet Murguía, president of UnidosUS, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, uninsured rates for Hispanic children went up 9.2 percent in 2019, the largest increase in any racial or ethnic group.
"While the ACA made tremendous coverage gains for Latinos, covid showed there is a lot of work to be done," said Murguía, who appeared with Becerra Wednesday.
This time is a special enrollment period opened by the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden last month.
According to Becerra, the special enrollment period makes up to 2.6 million Hispanic adults eligible for coverage with a $0 premium, and up to 3 million Hispanic adults eligible for coverage with premiums under $50.
Becerra said the low premiums, available until the August 15 deadline, are a strong incentive, but he recognized a lack of information among many Hispanic communities have resulted in relatively low participation rates.
"A lot of people didn't understand what they had access to in terms of plans and the kind of coverage they could qualify for," said Becerra in Spanish.
"The incentive is that now [health care] will cost them a lot less," he added.