Democrats are becoming vocal about growing concerns over the lack of Latino enrollment in Obamacare healthcare exchanges as the deadline to sign up nears.
Despite claiming about a third of the uninsured population, the Obama administration has struggled to attract Latin Americans to Obamacare. According to one Latino health advocate, the population is simply “not at the table,” and expectations for Latinos to sign up to use the public health exchanges is low. Statistics show that many Latinos are choosing to be fined over having to sign up for Obamacare. This is of particular concern in California, where the healthcare exchanges were considered “the number one priority” of the state and Latinos make up more than half of the state’s uninsured population.
The Associated Press noted that approval for the Affordable Care Act dropped precipitously in October, according to the Pew Research Center. Then, CuidadodeSalud.gov was delayed several times, and, when finally useable, boasted a woeful number of spelling errors and grammatical inconsistencies that made it nearly impossible for a Spanish speaker to read.
Some Democrats openly admit that outreach has left much to be desired. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) of Texas told the AP that a major obstacle to enrollment has been a lack of “culturally sensitive” outreach: in-person offices to discuss the exchanges and more available operators with whom to speak before choosing a plan.
The AP speculated that “fear that applying for health care will bring unwelcome scrutiny from immigration authorities” is keeping Latin Americans from signing up for health insurance. Such speculation assumes that immigration woes plague a high percentage of Latin Americans, which discounts Latino populations that are either naturalized, born in the United States, or given U.S. citizenship through territorial status, like Puerto Ricans. Simply put, America’s Latin American population is too diverse and large to simplify into a monolithic entity mostly representative of Mexican Americans and Central Americans, who make up the largest percentages of illegal immigrants.
Census data shows that in 2010, 10.4% of Latinos were native-born; that’s 28,434,328 Latinos the White House could target to acquire health insurance through Obamacare without having to worry about immigration problems.
The problems with Latino enrollment continue after months of enthusiastic outreach. The Obama administration has spent an enormous amount of effort on convincing Latinos to sign up for either the national or state Obamacare exchanges. Anticipating this month’s signup deadline, President Obama hosted a town hall event with Univisión, Telemundo, and La Opinion-impreMedia called “Your Health and the New Law.” Translated into Spanish, these broadcasts targeted Latinos. The President also appeared on two Spanish-language sports broadcasts–a segment on ESPN Deportes and the Univisión program Locura Deportiva (Sports Madness)–encouraging viewers to use Obamacare exchanges to buy health care.
Studies of the potential implications of signing up for the healthcare exchanges have found that the Affordable Care Act may disproportionately hurt the Latino population. As Breitbart News reported, in a column in the San Antonio Express-News last month, Daniel Garza noted that the limitation of doctor choice and an overwhelming reliance on catastrophic insurance for young people make Obamacare especially damaging to Latinos.