More than 16 percent of Obamacare enrollees were black, data shows

Obamacare Enrollees Black

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to Bladensburg High School April 7, 2014, in Bladensburg, Maryland. Obama announced the winners of a competition that was launched last fall to bring together educators and employers to give students access to real-world career skills and college-level courses. A total of $107 million will be awarded across the country to this partnership. Bladensburg High school is being awarded 7 million. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

More than 16 percent of people who enrolled in Obamacare and stated their race in their application were African-American, according to preliminary data released by the Obama administration.

In a comprehensive report on enrollment through the Affordable Care Act from October to April, the Department of Health and Human Services, for the first time, offered insights on the racial demographics of people who enrolled. This data is incomplete, though. It only includes people who live in one of the 36 states where the federal government operated the health insurance exchange, so it excludes states like New York and California, both of which have high minority populations. And even in those 36 states, 31 percent of people opted either not to report their race or checked “unknown” or “other.” And people who qualified for Medicaid, a group that is also likely to be disproportionately minority, were not broken down by race either.

In the sample of 3.8 million people in 36 states who bought private insurance, 16.7 percent were black, 10.7 percent Latino, 7.9 percent Asian, 62.9 percent white.

These early estimates suggest the administration is succeeding in enrolling blacks and other groups in the health insurance, but lagged behind with Latinos. About 15 percent of the people who could have enrolled in ACA plans are Latino. Black enrollment actually outpaced expectations, as about 13 percent of potential enrollees were black but nearly 17 percent selected an insurance plan.

Administration officials acknowledge challenges in enrolling Latinos, specifically noting the fear some have of that providing personal information during the enrollment process will ready to deportation for either them or their relatives.

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