LA Times: California’s health exchange enrolls 159,000, but few Latinos turn out

California's health exchange reports enrollment surgeAbout 7,100 Californians signed up daily for private health insurance in the state’s exchange during the first week of December, data show. (David McNew / Getty Images)
By Chad TerhuneCalifornia’s insurance exchange said 159,000 people have enrolled in private health plans through early December, but very few Latinos are signing up.

In figures released Thursday, the Covered California exchange also said 179,000 people appear likely to qualify for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor.

State officials said early returns this month indicate enrollment continues to accelerate ahead of a Dec. 23 deadline to apply if people want coverage in place Jan. 1.

About 7,100 people daily have selected a health plan during the first week of December. The state’s overall enrollment had reached 159,004 through Dec. 7.

“Enrollments and applications are surging,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. He said the exchange and outside groups assisting with enrollment “are stepping up our game to meet the demand.”

One of the weak spots so far in California has been the lackluster turnout among Latinos, even though they make up about half of the state’s 7 million uninsured and stand to gain significantly from federal premium subsidies.

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