Latinos Being Left Behind in Health Care Overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Hispanics account for about one-third of the nation’s uninsured, but they seem to be staying on the on the sidelines as the White House races to meet a goal of 6 million sign-ups by March 31.

That’s a loss both for Latinos who are trying to put down middle-class roots and for the Obama administration, experts say.

Hispanics who remain uninsured could face fines and expose their families to high medical bills from unforeseen illness. And the government won’t get the full advantage of a group that’s largely young and healthy, helping keep premiums low in the new insurance markets.

“The enrollment rate for Hispanic-Americans seems to be very low, and I would be really concerned about that,” says Brookings Institution health policy expert Mark McClellan. “It is a large population that has a lot to gain … but they don’t seem to be taking advantage.”

The Obama administration says it has no statistics on the race and ethnicity of those signing up in the insurance exchanges, markets that offer subsidized private coverage in every state. Consumers provide those details voluntarily.