Skip to main content

Latinos left behind by Obamacare

By Dr. Cristina Beato
updated 10:33 AM EST, Fri March 7, 2014
Alicia Martinez tries to sign up for a health care plan at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Center.
Alicia Martinez tries to sign up for a health care plan at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Center.
  • Dr. Cristina Beato says Obama's Spanish-language health care site has been sloppy and often down.
  • She argues the Affordable Care Act will hurt, rather than help, many Latinos
  • Beato: Hispanics came to U.S. for promise of opportunity, but Obamacare is hurting that

Editor's note: Dr. Cristina Beato was born in Cuba and is a doctor and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Department of Health and Human Services in President George W. Bush's administration.

(CNN) -- It wasn't until December 6 that Latinos could access -- the extremely delayed and poorly translated Spanish version of The thrown-together Spanish website has been a thorn in the President's side with the Latino community.

It's no surprise that support for Obamacare has waned among Latinos. A Pew Research poll found that last year disapproval of Obamacare among Hispanics increased 11 points from September 2013 to December 2013.

The White House is worried. Not enough Americans are signing up for Democrats' misguided health care law. And that means more problems -- most notably higher costs -- could be on the horizon.

So the administration is scrambling in the final three weeks of the enrollment period to sign up enough people to make the health care law work.

Dr. Cristina Beato
Dr. Cristina Beato

Yet the White House is ignoring an inconvenient truth: Obamacare is hurting far too many of our friends and neighbors in the Latino community. The problems go far beyond the demeaning and sloppy

One of the biggest fears the White House has is the low enrollment of millennials. Sixty-five percent of Latinos in this country are 22 to 35 years old, they are key to the success of Obamacare. If enough of them don't sign up for insurance plans, individuals may expect to face higher average costs.

But millennials say they aren't signing up because coverage is unaffordable -- or doesn't make sense for them. Fusion, a new English-language Latino TV network, illustrated the trouble with the health care law when they interviewed a 28-year-old Obama supporter who says he won't sign up for coverage because "he'd rather spend the money on his business, rather than spend it on insurance he says won't even help him that much."

Besides the affordability and enrollment problems for young people, our abuelos -- grandparents -- will be hurt by the new health care law as well.

Due to Medicare reductions under Obamacare, Medicare Advantage is being cut.

Biden on health care: 'Hell of a start'
Healthcare and tech intersect at MWC
Obama: ACA delay not meant to 'punish'

The National Medical Hispanic Association has called the payment cuts "disturbing" -- and rightfully so. Thirty-eight percent of Latinos with incomes of $20,000 or less enrolled in Medicare Advantage may face higher fees and fewer benefits.

But the pain for our community doesn't end there.

Across the country, Obamacare is bound to take a toll on some of the 2.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses and 1.9 million workers they help employ. The law has made it harder for businesses to hire more workers, and full-time workers have seen their hours reduced to part-time.

Ruben Rivas, owner of a small business called H2Only Renewable Cleaning, told Telemundo, "There is no way we can pay or provide employees their health insurance, because there is no margin. If I do that, I have to close the doors -- then no one is going to work. Unfortunately, we are trying to convert our employees from eight hours to 5.5 hours (daily) as stated in the new law."

Hispanics came to this country in search of the promise of individual freedom and opportunity, but Obamacare is undermining that promise.

We do not need special sign-up programs or false assurances. We need real health care reform that actually expands access and lowers costs -- not "reform" that makes life more expensive.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dr. Cristina Beato.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 8:17 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.