A new poll of Latino/Hispanic adults strongly suggests that the Federal Government needs to do much more outreach to Latinos regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The poll, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, and impreMedia and administered by Latino Decisions, queried 800 Latino/Hispanic adults regarding their knowledge of the new health care law and their personal health care status, including a specific focus on how the rising costs of health care is impacting the lives of Latinos in the United States.
Clear Need for More/Better Outreach
Overall, the results from this poll indicate that there will need to be not only more outreach to the Latino community regarding the new law, but information that is more directly targeted to this population. When asked about their general knowledge about the new law only 12% of Latino adults feel very informed about the ACA (see figure below) compared to a combined 52% who felt either “not all that” or “not that” informed.
This is reinforced by an overwhelming majority (69%) of Latino adults who say that the ACA is confusing and complicated. Another component of this segment of the survey indicated that only 13% of Latinos think public officials in D.C. took the health needs of the Latino community into account during the ACA debates and bill passage compared to 41% who think they did not take Latinos into account and 43% who said “somewhat”. Finally, ask depicted in the figure below, when asked to provide the names of different parts of the new law a robust 71% indicated that they “did not know”.
Latinos Express a Desire to be Engaged With the ACA
Now is a critical time to provide the Latino population with more information about the ACA and the poll suggests Latinos are eager to be engaged in this discussion. Overall, 89% of Latinos (see figure below) said they are interested in learning more about the ACA, including 56% who say “very interested”. Furthermore, after hearing some basic information, 75% believe ACA will be good for the Latino community in the long run compared to only 16% say it will be bad. These findings from the survey provide some optimism that if properly engaged the Latino community will be avid consumers of information pertaining the to the historic reform legislation.
The Rising Costs of Health Care are Major Burden to Latino Families
The survey also reveals that the costs of health care are creating significant burdens on Latino families and that far too many Latino households lack access to health insurance. The survey indicates that 35% of Latinos lacked health insurance at some time in the past 12 months with an additional 10% indicating they lost their health insurance at some time during the recession of the past 4 years. When taken together that’s 45% of Latino adults who have not had permanent and regular access to health insurance. When queried about the costs of health care nearly half of Latino adults indicate that their health care costs have “gone up” in the past year with 76% of those who have seen their costs rise indicating that this has created a significant financial burden. The costs of health care and medical bills has had a tremendous impact on the lives of Latino families and on their health seeking behavior. For example, 28% (see figure below) of respondents to the survey said that because of medical bills, they have been unable to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, heat with 40% indicating they have had trouble paying their other bills. Finally, 32% of respondents say that because of the costs, they or a family member have skipped a recommended medical test or treatment.
Latino Decisions and ImpreMedia partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico in the design of the survey focused on Latinos knowledge and attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act. All phone calls were administered by Pacific Market Research in Renton, Washington. The poll was overseen by Drs. Matt Barreto and Gabriel Sanchez — both experts in Latino public opinion. A total of 800 completed interviews were conducted with Latino adults. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.4%. Respondents were interviewed by telephone, and could choose to be interviewed in either English or Spanish. A mix of cell phone only and landline households were included in the sample, and both samples are weighted to match the 2010 Current Population Survey universe estimate of Latinos. The survey was approximately 20 minutes long and was fielded from April 14, 2013 through April 22, 2013.