Low Latino Enrollment Hurting California Obamacare Exchange

Low Latino Enrollment Hurting California Obamacare Exchange

The LA Times reports Covered California’s enrollment among Latinos is dreadful, despite spending millions on advertising targeting Spanish-speaking Californians. Overall, less than 4,500 people who speak Spanish as their primary language have enrolled in Obamacare using the state exchange.

People who speak Spanish first represent 29% of California’s population, but only account for 5% of Covered California’s enrollment. 

The low turnout comes despite the fact that in June President Obama made a special California visit joining with Spanish-language outlets Univision, Telemundo, La Opinion, and California Endowment to promote enrollment for the state exchange. The California Endowment alone is spending $25 million reaching out to Latinos, encouraging them to enjoy the many healthcare benefits Obamacare offers by signing up through Covered California.

The miserable turnout by Latinos has been profoundly criticized by Obamacare supporters. They are worried that the exchange is not capturing the young and healthy segment of the Spanish-speaking population, which could undermine the viability of the state exchange. 

The LA Times report claims that a “general mistrust some Latinos have toward government” who have “undocumented relatives” as a possible reason for the low enrollment numbers. In addition, although the Covered California website has Spanish language capability, most Spanish-speaking Californians prefer to apply using paper applications. As of now, there are no hard copy applications available in Spanish, but the state exchange said a paper application in Spanish should be available next week.

If the state exchange hopes to meet its goal of 500,000 to 700,000 enrollees in subsidized health insurance by the end of March, it will need to attract a lot more Latinos. As of December 7, most of the 156,143 enrolled through Covered California will receive federal subsides.