Obamacare's Spanish Site Still Has Vital Information in English

Friday, 20 Dec 2013 04:30 PM

By Audrey Hudson

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The Spanish-language Obamacare website rollout has been plagued by worse problems than the glitch-filled HealthCare.gov, and significant information is still presented in English, including the section outlining what healthcare plans are available.

The Obama administration's rollout of the Spanish language CuidadoDeSalud.gov website took longer than its English counterpart, yet Latinos still face the same deadlines as English-speaking Americans to navigate the site and get insurance coverage by Jan. 1.

Obama administration officials have not released the number of Hispanics who have signed up for healthcare insurance through the national system, but an initial figure from California is not promising.

Only 13 percent of enrollees in California's online healthcare exchange are Hispanic, despite accounting for 38 percent of the population, the state said last week.

"It's already a net loss in California and that's supposed to be the model program," said Daniel Garza, executive director of The LIBRE Initiative's Accountability Project, which advances free-enterprise efforts among Hispanics and is working to expose broken promises in Obamacare.

"It's disastrous all the way around," he said.

On the home page of the Spanish-language site are three main sections: to compare policies, purchase health insurance, and apply for subsidies. The compare policies section is still in English.

Garza said Spanish speakers also are being directed to information outside the federal exchange that is in English.

"A lot of it is just sending people to third-party sites, state exchange programs, and they are not in Spanish," Garza noted.

The Spanish version was overwhelmed with glitches throughout October and November and did not go fully operational until last week, 10 days after the Obama administration said the English website was finally running smoothly.

However, Garza said the site is mostly cosmetic, and like the English version of the website, doesn't effectively work on the back end to hook participants up with insurance companies.

"People who think they signed up for a policy are going to be in for a rude awakening a month or two down the line," Garza said.

The federal government is counting on nearly 24 million Americans signing up for Obamacare, and it is expected that one in four will not speak English, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

With higher unemployment in the Hispanic community and lower median household incomes, Obamacare will further burden families with the new insurance mandates and higher premiums, Garza said.

But the participation of Hispanics is critical to the success of Obamacare. With a Latino population of 60 million at an average age of 27, those healthy adults are needed to help pay the healthcare costs of older Americans.

Garza also said the lack of participation by Hispanics is due in part to the community losing faith in President Barack Obama.

Garza cited a list of broken promises to the community, including on immigration reform, that he said has led to a decline in the president's poll numbers.

A recent Gallup poll found that Hispanics' approval of Obama has fallen from 75 percent in December 2012 to 52 percent in the last few weeks.

"I don't think the community has been a priority for this administration," Garza said. "They gave a lot of lip service. I think they just take the community for granted, that the support will be there, and I think they are just now starting to understand that that's not going to be case.

"So they better get on the ball here or they're going to lose support on a grand scale, as well they should if they continue these shenanigans."

The Accountability Project is also targeting the re-election efforts of Hispanic members of Congress who voted for Obamacare and who continue to support the new healthcare law, beginning with Democratic Reps. Joe Garcia of Florida and Pete Gallego of Texas.

The project is running television and radio ads and sponsoring rallies to tell voters "it's a bad law that is wreaking havoc on the Hispanic community," Garza said.

"Here we have folks who are supporting a bad policy that is having disastrous effects, and they are continuing to support it, seeing with their own eyes the consequences of a bad law," Garza said. "So we mean to make sure they pay a heavy political price for that."

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