The White House’s failed rollout of its Spanish-language health care website, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, is already a laughingstock. The site is filled with technical issues, mistranslations and links to English-only pages and forms.
But the joke is on Hispanics and Latinos like myself. Beyond the federal website, the Affordable Care Act penalizes the Hispanic-American community in Oklahoma in several serious ways. The law actually makes affordable and quality health care even harder to find.
One issue is how Obamacare affects patient choice and doctor-patient relationships. These are major issues for Hispanics. According to the Census Bureau, we’re the least likely demographic to seek out medical attention. Forty-two percent of Hispanics don’t visit the doctor even once a year.
When we do go to see a doctor, we’re very picky. The National Hispanic Medical Association reports that Hispanics prefer doctors who “appreciate (our) culture and understand (our) families’ dynamics and (our) traditions.”
Unfortunately, our options are limited by the fact that only 5 percent of doctors are Hispanic. Yet that’s where Obamacare kicks in and makes things worse. Because the law imposes so many expensive mandates and regulations on health insurance, the most affordable health care plans don’t include the large networks that give us the most choice.
This limits Hispanics’ already-strained access to the doctors we want and worsens the culture’s chronic doctor shortages. But this isn’t even the worst of Obamacare’s problems. Despite what we were promised, the Affordable Care Act is surprisingly unaffordable.
Obamacare will simply be too expensive for many Hispanics. The problem for us stems from the law’s over-reliance on the young. This directly affects the Hispanic-American community because its median age is 10 years lower than the national average, at 27. This is the age that’s most severely harmed by Obamacare’s premium increases.
This is either an unfortunate coincidence or a cruel joke. Either way, it couldn’t be worse for Hispanics’ financial health. A recent analysis by Forbes concludes that the average 27-year-old’s health care premium has spiked by 51 percent for men and 10 percent for women in Oklahoma since Obamacare took effect.
These skyrocketing prices are bad news for the 332,000 Hispanics and Latinos who call Oklahoma home. Many of them will struggle to find the cash to pay much more than we already do, even after subsidies. Yet thanks to the individual mandate, we can either pony up the cash or pay a penalty that will total nearly $700 for individuals and more than $2,000 for families.
This litany of problems makes it seem as if Hispanic-Americans’ needs weren’t taken into account by the Affordable Care Act’s architects. Surely we deserved better! We have the highest uninsured rate in the nation, at just under 30 percent, and yet Obamacare gives us little reason to join its ranks.
Then again, it would be hard to sign up for Obamacare online even if we wanted to. The broken website makes a mockery of the Spanish language — and that’s only the latest of Obamacare’s broken promises.
Garza is executive director of the Texas-based LIBRE Initiative (www.thelibreinitiative.com).