[Photo by Lucio Villa]

Eight in 10 uninsured Latinos qualify for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Chicago metropolitan area has among the highest concentration of uninsured Latinos in the nation, with nearly six in 10. There are about 288,000 uninsured Latinos in the city. Many of these Latinos could have some type of coverage under the Medicaid expansion and the health insurance market, which started last month as part of the Affordable Care Act. 

A third of uninsured Latinos — or about 3 million — are eligible for state-expanded Medicaid. Twenty-five states have opted out of the plan.  An additional 2.3 million Latinos would be eligible if these states expanded Medicaid coverage.  

In 2012, the Supreme Court struck down the Medicaid expansion provision in Obamacare. The decision created a gap in coverage for low-income uninsured people who don’t qualify for Medicaid while better paid workers can buy insurance with taxpayer-funded subsidies, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Last year, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the Medicaid expansion. Under the law, about 342,000 low-income uninsured Illinoisans are covered effective this January, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

The state partnered with about 50 community-based organizations with ties to immigrant populations to help increase the enrollment of uninsured Latinos. The Spanish-language version of the government health care web site has also helped educate Latinos about possible coverage, the Tribune reported.





María Inés Zamudio covers immigration as part of WBEZ's race, class and communities team. She's previously served on investigative teams for American Public Media, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and The...