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Working to Close CO's Latino Senior Health Coverage Gap

Only 23 percent of older Latinos have Medicare with supplemental coverage, compared to 50 percent of non-Latinos. Colorado groups are teaming up to change that. (monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto)
Only 23 percent of older Latinos have Medicare with supplemental coverage, compared to 50 percent of non-Latinos. Colorado groups are teaming up to change that. (monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto)
March 1, 2016

DENVER - Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, one-third of Latinos were uninsured, more than any other group.

AARP Colorado has teamed up with AmeriCorps and the group Boomers Leading Change in Health to close the health coverage gap for Hispanic seniors in the Denver metro area.

Although the number of uninsured has dropped to one in five, David Ronquillo, an AmeriCorps liaison working with AARP Colorado, says too many people still lack coverage.

"There's quite an audience out there that needs to be informed about the Affordable Care Act and what's available, and increase the numbers of Latinos being enrolled," says Ronquillo. "They are considered one of the most under-enrolled demographics in the United States."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says only 23 percent of Latino seniors have Medicare with supplemental coverage, compared to 50 percent of non-Latinos.

On Wed., Mar. 3, the groups host a free public workshop about coverage options at the Denver Inner City Parish, 1212 Mariposa St., Denver. Ronquillo says other workshops will eventually be held in the suburbs as well.

He says a disproportionate number of older Latinos face such chronic conditions as high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes compared to non-Latino seniors.

And Ronquillo notes the biggest challenges getting people connected to coverage include navigating the Internet-based enrollment process and confusing messaging about deadlines.

"If they're in the Social Security system, they'll automatically get a Medicare card," says Ronquillo. "If they turn 65 even after the enrollment period, they become covered automatically."

Recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation show Latinos with health coverage score at least 50 percent higher on six key health measures compared to those who are uninsured.

Ronquillo says that's all the evidence he needs to schedule more workshops to help close the coverage gap.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO