Tags: Healthcare Reform | Obamacare | Hispanics | Latinos | sign up

Fears Keeping Hispanics From Signing Up for Obamacare

By    |   Monday, 09 February 2015 10:05 AM

About a third of the nation's uninsured are Hispanics, but getting them to sign up for healthcare has been difficult because of language barriers, fears that they or their relatives will be deported, and often-confusing Obamacare rules.

Government statistics
as of Jan. 16, or two months into this year's three-month signup period, show that only 10 percent of those who enrolled for insurance plans through the federal marketplace exchanges are Latino, according to a Kaiser Health News.

Those numbers are only up by about 7 percent over the first few months of last year's enrollment period, even though the Department of Health and Human Services and other groups have stepped up their efforts to reach Hispanic recipients.

The figures may not be entirely accurate, Kaiser reports, as there are no requirements that people who sign up for coverage must state their ethnicity or race.

According to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, almost a third of the media budget for the Affordable Care Act is focused on the Hispanic media, where just 10 percent of the budget focused on Latinos last year.

There is also in-person assistance available, but sessions can run up to two hours and often several meetings are necessary to explain all options, only to have many applicants balk at having to pay a monthly premium that can remain even after tax credits are figured in.

Latinos are signing up, though. About 2.6 million of those ages 18 to 64 have become insured through Obamacare, according to the HHS, with the highest gains coming in states where Medicaid has been expanded.

But still, many are afraid that signing up for healthcare will endanger family members who are undocumented immigrants, even though the Obama administration insists that information on applicants' accounts can't be used to deport anybody.

“You don’t want to be the family member that because you signed up for coverage you’re getting your grandmother, your uncle or your parent deported,” Anthony Wright, executive director of the healthcare consumer group Health Access California, told Kaiser.

And then there is confusion between state and federal exchanges, and some states are more welcoming than others concerning enrollment efforts.

Further, as just over half the states have expanded Medicaid, that has limited Hispanic enrollment. According to the HHS, if all states expanded Medicaid, 95 percent of the nation's uninsured Latinos could qualify for Medicaid or tax credits to help pay for insurance.

But in other states, where Medicaid has not been expanded, individuals must earn at least $11,670 a year to qualify for Obamacare subsidies. People who don't qualify end up in a "coverage gap," where they also don't qualify for Medicaid.

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About a third of the nation's uninsured are Hispanics, but getting them to sign up for healthcare has been difficult because of language barriers, fears that they or their relatives will be deported, and often-confusing Obamacare rules.
Obamacare, Hispanics, Latinos, sign up
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2015-05-09
Monday, 09 February 2015 10:05 AM
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