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Data: KFF; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

U.S. Latino civil rights groups are running bilingual campaigns to get as many eligible people as possible to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act before the end of the year.

Why it matters: Latinos are one of most uninsured groups in the country, whether through public plans like Medicaid or private plans through employers.

  • This leaves them especially vulnerable when needing care, including hospitalization, preventive services, treatment of physical and mental ailments, or cases of pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Latinos who are primarily Spanish speakers historically fare much worse, using health services up to 42% less than non-Hispanic adults proficient in English.

What’s happening: UnidosUS has developed an ad campaign that complements efforts by the government and other groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), to explain and demystify the ACA enrollment process before it ends on Jan.15.

Between the lines: Rates have remained steady since 2018 — 1 in 4 Latinos don’t have health insurance coverage, census data shows.

  • Experts attribute the plateau to persistent fears from now-defunct Trump-era policies, such as a “public charge” rule, which prohibited immigrants who used benefits like housing subsidies or Medicaid from obtaining residency or citizenship.

The catch: During the pandemic, lack of insurance has been identified as a key obstacle that often prevents Latinos from timely COVID testing or treatment.

  • Those with lower English proficiency have frequently faced more significant barriers for COVID-19 related care and for vaccinations, per studies.
  • Latinos overall are among those most affected by coronavirus infections and deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For reference: Open enrollment is the yearly period in which people in the U.S. can sign up for an insurance plan, renew it, adjust it or cancel it.

  • Those interested in having health care coverage as soon as Jan. 1 would need to sign up by Wednesday at the latest.
  • If sign up is done by Jan. 15, coverage would begin Feb. 1.

Get more news that matters about Latinos in the hemisphere, delivered right to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sign up for the Axios Latino newsletter.

Go deeper

COVID cases soar by more than 200%

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Note: Maryland case counts may be lagging due to ongoing technical issues; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The number of new COVID cases more than tripled over the past two weeks, shattering records all across the U.S.

Why it matters: The Omicron variant appears to be significantly milder than its predecessors, and it's not leading to as much serious illness. But sky-high case counts are still a warning sign, especially in areas whose health care systems are already stretched thin.

With focus on COVID, Ohio's other vaccinations lag

Expand chart
Data: Ohio Department of Health; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

While the public's focus shifts to COVID-19's Omicron surge, routine health care for Ohio's adolescents could be falling through the cracks.

What's happening: The number of teens receiving required childhood vaccines — the non-COVID ones — has nosedived during the pandemic, according to our review of Ohio Department of Health data.

Jan 13, 2022 - Axios Denver

Colorado's latest COVID wave differs from past surges

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

In a significant shift from previous waves of the pandemic, Colorado is seeing fewer hospitalizations due exclusively to COVID-19.

Driving the news: But public health officials warned Wednesday that the virus is complicating those patients' other ailments and further straining understaffed hospitals, which are seeing more COVID-positive people than at any other point during the pandemic.