Many Latino Residents Left Behind in Initial Exchange Enrollment
Many Spanish-speaking California residents were left out of the first wave of coverage under the Affordable Care Act after missing the Dec. 24, 2013, deadline to apply for coverage beginning Jan. 1, Kaiser Health News reports.
Latinos are seen as being key to the success of the ACA. Many Latinos are uninsured, and they pose a lower financial risk because they typically are younger and healthier than other uninsured residents, KHN reports (Hernandez, Kaiser Health News, 1/3).
Background on Covered California Enrollment
According to data released by Covered California last month, about 159,000 people had signed up for health coverage through the exchange, including:
- 53,000 white individuals;
- 18,000 Asians;
- 14,000 Latinos; and
- 3,000 blacks.
Only 5% of those enrolled primarily speak Spanish, even though that group represents 29% of the state's total population (California Healthline, 12/16/13).
Reasons for Low Enrollment Among Latinos
Covered California has had a functioning Spanish language website since open enrollment began on Oct. 1, 2013, but many Latinos have had trouble accessing the site because they lack the resources to do so, such as Internet service or a smartphone (Kaiser Health News, 1/3).
Exchange officials have offered several additional reasons for low enrollment among Latinos, including:
- A shortage of Spanish-speaking enrollment counselors; and
- A lack of paper applications in Spanish (California Healthline, 12/16/13).
In addition, Latino state residents who live in households with undocumented relatives are concerned that signing up for a government-run program could lead to unwanted scrutiny, according to KHN (Kaiser Health News, 1/3).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.