Few Latinos Enrolled in Covered California Coverage During October
Fewer than 1,000 Latinos living in California signed up for coverage through the state health insurance exchange during October, McClatchy/Kaiser Health News reports.
According to McClatchy/ KHN, Latino residents make up 60% of the state's uninsured population. About 1.2 million of such individuals are eligible for federal subsidies in the exchange.
Latinos living in California tend to be younger, healthier individuals, suggesting that their participation in the exchange could help offset the cost of older, sicker enrollees.
However, such individuals only made up 3% of total enrollees in October.
Barriers to Enrollment
State health advocates have cited several enrollment barriers for Latino residents, including shortages of bilingual enrollment counselors and phone operators. Also, there is no Spanish-language paper application available for residents who seek to bypass online enrollment.
In addition, technical issues have created problems on the Spanish-language Covered California website, including:
- Security questions that appear only in English; and
- Spanish words that appear misspelled.
Call centers in the state also have had problems, including:
- Average waits times of about 18 minutes; and
- The use of English-language prompts in electronic Spanish-language directories.
In addition, some Latinos are hesitant to turn over personal or financial data to government agencies and are worried about calling attention to family members who are undocumented immigrants.
State Sen. Norma Torres (D) said the barriers are "completely unacceptable." She added, "Obviously [Covered California's] plan for reaching this demographic is not working. They should reevaluate and come up with a new strategy."
However, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D) said that he believes enrollment numbers will improve but that the Spanish-language exchange site "needs to be ramped up very quickly."
Covered California spokesperson Santiago Lucero said, "These are not ideal numbers, but we know the numbers will change."A breakdown of November enrollment data by ethnic group is expected in the middle of December (Gorman, McClatchy/Kaiser Health News, 12/1). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.