California Struggling With Latino Enrollment

With the March 31 deadline for Obamacare looming, California is struggling with the enrollment their Latino population. The state of California makes up 15 percent of the country’s uninsured, in order for the healthcare law to work it is vital that they reach out to the Latino community. The New York Times estimates that more than half of the uninsured in California are Latinos. In order to reach out to this disenfranchised group, the state is hiring more Spanish-speaking staff and expanding the marketing areas.

California is not the only state with a large Hispanic population that is struggling. Arizona and Texas are also having enrollment problems. The problem in California though compared to the other states is that it has the largest population of Latinos. Prior to the roll-out of the plan California implemented a $100 million marketing plan that included extensive Spanish-language ad campaigns.

While only 20 percent of the Latino population has currently enrolled in the healthcare plan in California, this is up from 13 percent the month before. The numbers that are being looked at all come from December, January’s numbers have yet to be tallied and with the March 31st deadline quickly approaching, California is going to have to step-up if it plans on reaching out to more ethnic groups.

At this point Covered California is trying to discover why it is struggling with low enrollment numbers, especially among the Latino community. One reason may be because of website glitches. Between that and long wait times on the phone many people have said that they simply gave up trying to get enrolled. Covered California, which handles the state’s insurance exchange, has trained counselors to help people with the enrollment process. California has also expanded its federal Medicaid program in order to make sure that everyone can afford insurance regardless of how much money they make.

One way that Covered California is looking to increase enrollment is by adding an additional 250 representatives, with another 100 representatives being hired by the end of the enrollment period in March, according to BusinessWeek.

Experts all agree that the only way for the new healthcare law to work is by getting everyone insured. Healthy young adults will offset the cost of the insurance for those who are older or with preexisting conditions. Since the Latino population makes up such a large portion of California’s overall population it is extremely important that they are enrolled in the healthcare plan.

When asked many people complain that the website is just too confusing, that is why they have yet to sign up. Covered California hopes that by hiring more counselors they can help people get through the process in a less confusing manner and guarantee the success of the new health care plan.

Fox News cites poor implementation of the Spanish-language website and translation errors as one of the main reasons why enrollment numbers are down among Hispanics. This, Fox News says, is why the President reached out to the Spanish-speaking community last week, and why a teleconference was held with reporters outlining the administration’s efforts to reach out to the Hispanic community. By reaching out the administration is hoping to eliminate some of the struggling felt by the Latino community when it comes to Covered California’s enrollment process.

By Rachel Woodruff

New York Times
Fox News
Chicago Tribune
Press Enterprise