LA Times: California health insurance exchange struggling to enroll Latinos

The lack of a Spanish-language application form and a shortage of counselors hamper the California health insurance exchange’s effort.

Obamacare information booth

Fremont High School students at the South L.A. Power Festival fill out health surveys and gather information about Obamacare. (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times / September 28, 2013)

By Chad Terhune and Eryn Brown

For all its success enrolling tens of thousands in health insurance, California is struggling to translate Obamacare into Spanish.

The state’s enrollment so far among Latinos is anemic — even though they represent more than half of California’s 7 million uninsured residents. Only 5% of enrollees, or fewer than 4,500 people, in the first two months of enrollment are primarily Spanish speakers, new data show.

The dismal results have drawn sharp criticism from supporters of the healthcare law. They fault the Covered California exchange for strategic missteps, and they fear that missing out on this relatively young and healthy population could threaten the viability of the state exchange.

Without a large pool of people and enough younger policyholders to balance out older, sicker patients, rates could spiral up, and insurers may drop out of the state-run marketplace.

“It is unacceptable that Latinos are getting the least amount of access to the benefits offered by the Affordable Care Act,” said state Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pomona). “Covered California’s strategy for Latino enrollment has not proven itself to be effective. The success of this program and the affordability of health insurance in the future depends on Latinos signing up.”,0,5116461.story#ixzz2o2XKyANT

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