As an entrepreneur, I have always believed that providing our employees health insurance was an important benefit for them, their families and our bottom line. Providing employees access to health insurance will reduce the huge health disparities gap that exists between the Southern California Latino community and other Angelenos.
The recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld President Obama’s health care law is particularly important to the large number of Latino-owned businesses in Los Angeles as well as other large and small businesses based here, many of which employ Hispanic Americans.
Los Angeles is home to nearly 5 million Latinos, the majority of whom were born and raised in California. Meanwhile, in the ninth largest economy in the world, our families suffer from many preventable diseases and unhealthy lifestyle choices because of lack of access to health care. Just take a look at California’s Latino health disparities from a report by the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California:
• More than half (54 percent) are uninsured.
• Nearly one-third (28 percent) of children ages 0-6 are uninsured.
• More than one-third (38 percent) of children between ages 0-17 are uninsured.
• Almost all (96 percent) of California’s farm workers are Latino, with a majority (70 percent) uninsured.
With this new health care law, health disparities can be reduced and access to health care can be improved from better multicultural communications to hiring more diverse medical professionals. By providing health care access and prevention outreach efforts, we can reduce unintentional injuries and other preventable diseases.
I believe the new health care law will also help small businesses.
It will allow the Health Exchange of California (purchasing power for small business) to move forward to reduce the cost of health insurance for small businesses and increase the insurance options for them.
It will help level the playing field for small businesses to be able to offer benefits that used to be reserved only for big businesses. Additionally, it will be a great benefit for sole proprietors who now have to go through medical underwriting to get coverage.
In addition to being the right thing to do for employees, there will also be tax credits for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Only businesses with 50 people will be required to offer health insurance.
Most important of all, Latinos, many of whom have never had access to health care, will now have a chance to live longer and healthier lives.
While this may not be the perfect solution, the richest nation in the world should be able to take care of its children, elderly, disabled, veterans and those others who are most in need of health care. Let’s work together for a healthier Los Angeles.
Luis Vasquez-Ajmac is president of Maya, a multicultural marketing firm headquartered in Redondo Beach and Washington, D.C. He also is co-author of California’s Latino Leaders Health Care Priorities Disparities survey, and a board member of the Los Angeles County Business Federation and Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
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