The Curious Case of Hialeah

Flag_of_Hialeah,_FloridaJanuary 2016 marks the 3rd year of the Health Insurance Marketplaces, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act designed to help millions of Americans buy affordable, quality healthcare. In those three years, enrollment has grown to well over 12 million people. Thus far, 3 million new Americans enrolled in 2016. 35% of those enrolled are 35 years old or younger; an important statistic for the viability of the law. Without enough young enrollees with minimal healthcare usage, the prices for health plans could potentially skyrocket. 85% of those enrolled are receiving financial assistance, which make the costs of their health plans cheaper each month.

Overall, there was enrollment growth nationwide in 2016.  However one city in particular had surprising figures and now ranks #1 in Obamacare enrollments. It’s a city named Hialeah located in South Florida.

Obamacare’s Favorite City

More than 66,000 residents from multiple zip codes in the City of Hialeah purchased health coverage on Obama’s Health Insurance Marketplace in 2016. That represents almost 1/3rd of Hialeah’s 225,000 residents. Open enrollment does not officially end until January 31st, which means the numbers can only improve. Zip code 33012 registered 14,760 enrollments alone representing the zip code with the highest Obamacare enrollment nationwide. Located in Miami-Dade County, Hialeah is a major city of the South Florida metropolitan area and is the 6th largest city in Florida.

According to the U.S. Census:

  • 95% of the city is of Hispanic or Latino decent.
  • 73% are foreign born
  • 92% speaking a language other than English in the home.
  • 81% of the businesses are Hispanic-owned firms
  • The median household income is a little under $30,000 and close to 18% of Hialeah lives below the poverty line.
  • Close to 25% of the residents of Hialeah lacked health insurance.

Close to 18% of Hialeah lives below the poverty line with a median income; severely below the national average. Only 10% of their population has a college degree. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey – the City of Hialeah is in a county ranking one of the highest in the country has lacking health insurance –with 25%.

Hialeah Politics

Running on a less than popular Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama won the state of Florida for the second time (50.0% to 49.1%) against his Republican Presidential rival, Mitt Romney in 2012. Even more convincingly, President Obama also won Miami-Dade county 61.6% to 37.9% against Romney.


However, Hialeah had totally different results. Hialeah has one of the largest Cuban populations in the nation; a group that tends to overwhelmingly vote Republican. Additionally, Hialeah’s political leaders publically endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 who ran to undo Obama’s health law. The list of endorsers included: Carlos Hernandez – Mayor of Hialeah, Yioset de la Cruz – Mayor of Hialeah Gardens, and various high profile Hialeah City councilmen and councilwomen. Lastly, a study by The Bay Area Center for Voting Research found that the City of Hialeah was the 4th most conservative city in America. 71% of the city’s registered voters select conservative candidates.

In the End

The City of Hialeah can be emblematic of the many cities across America that have benefited from policies that the residents strongly oppose; essentially voting against their personal and political interests. This could be an opportunities for party leaders to improve their political messaging and communication. In fact, the latest results from the  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll shows 46% of American adults still have an unfavorable view of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; an increase of 6% since April 2010.



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