ABSTRACT. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in March 2010, but the ethnic Mexican population, which includes citizens and legal residents, a significant portion of whom are uninsured and underinsured, enrolled in the program in low numbers. Officials considered various reasons for this but overlooked more than a century of medicalized racialization and structural discrimination against this population. This article examines historical events, decade by decade, reviewing key aspects of the wide-ranging disenfranchisement of ethnic Mexicans in the US over the last century to shed light on this group’s relationship to public health. It argues that we need to understand the role that history plays as more than a backdrop that informs present debates. Past public health practices and discourses endure as cultural representations and are built into institutional structures and practices. This history signals to Mexicans that they are not fully accepted into US society. Hence, many may avoid government-sponsored healthcare.

Keywords: Latino; public health; Mexican; Affordable Care Act; immigrants; immigration; race and ethnicity

How to cite: Molina, Natalia (2017), “Why Didn’t More Ethnic Mexicans Sign Up for Obamacare?: Examining Public Health’s Impact over One Hundred Fifty Years,” American Journal of Medical Research 4(2): 20–46.

Received 27 January 2017 • Received in revised form 31 March 2017
Accepted 1 April 2017 • Available online 20 April 2017


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