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More Latinos Signing Up for Insurance

On Thursday, Covered California officials said a much higher percentage of Latinos this year are enrolling in coverage through the exchange, compared with last year.

About two-thirds of the way through open enrollment, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said the numbers are encouraging at the exchange board’s monthly meeting. “There is … one month to go and we have good news about momentum and about enrollment numbers,” Lee said.

Overall enrollment is on target to meet the exchange’s goal of 500,000 new enrollees during this open enrollment period, to add to the existing 1.2 million who signed up last year, Lee said.

Covered California open enrollment is Nov.15, 2014, through Feb. 15.

Lee said the exchange’s outreach effort to minority groups in California seems to be working. In roughly the first two-thirds of open enrollment, through Jan. 12,about 28% of enrollees were Latino — compared to about 18% in the first half of last year’s open enrollment. Of the more than 300,000 Californians who have been determined eligible during the current enrollment period but have not yet picked a plan, about 50% of those potential enrollees are Latino, Lee said.

“The fact that 50% of the consumers in the pipeline are Latino proves that our outreach is making a difference,” Lee said.

According to exchange officials, the increased outreach effort included:

  • About 18% more English- and Spanish-language advertising aimed at Latinos than last year;
  • Establishment of a Spanish-language enrollment website;
  • An increase in bilingual representatives answering the phones at service centers, up to 219 bilingual assisters, including 155 Spanish speakers, which is about 100 more than last year; and
  • More interaction and collaboration with immigrant rights groups and physicians in the Latino community.

Lee on Thursday declined to release renewal numbers for the 1.2 million people who paid for coverage through the exchange last year and need to renew those policies, saying that information wouldn’t be accurate until the end of next month.

Federal renewal numbers show only consumers’ interest in renewing, rather than those who actually paid for 2015 policies, Lee said — and that paid-premium data is not available yet.

“We won’t know until late February,” Lee said. “That will be for true renewals, rather than for people who say, ‘Well, I might renew.’ “

Lee also gave slightly updated enrollment numbers: 228,766 enrollees through Jan. 12.

“That represents 11,000 new enrollees, and that was just on Monday,” Lee said. “One day. Every day matters.”

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Capitol Desk Covered California