Many Latinos are not enrolling in ObamaCare because they fear that the information they give to the government may expose relatives who are illegal immigrants and trigger their deportation, according to the Los Angeles Times. In California, about 600,000 Latinos in California still have no heath insurance, even though they qualify for subsidized coverage. Open enrollment runs from November 15 to February 15.
Catherine Teare, senior program officer for health reform at the California HealthCare Foundation, asserted, “This is a very big deal in California. It’s really hard for Covered California or anybody to make those concerns go away.”
According to the Times, Covered California’s appeal to Latinos blundered initially; there was no application in Spanish and a paucity of enrollment counselors in Latino neighborhoods. But officials from Covered California now say they are more confident of the program’s progress, as there was an increase in Latino enrollment last March and April. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said, “We have to address this issue of immigration status head on. We need trusted voices saying it’s safe.”
In the last 12 months, 3.4 million Californians have enrolled in health insurance, either with private insurance or an expansion of Medi-Cal. Covered California wants to enroll 500,000 more people to private health plans by the February deadline. Of those in the Latino community who are eligible to procure health insurance using private insurance or medi-Cal, 37% said they were concerned about exposing their relatives who were illegal immigrants.
Despite Barack Obama’s promise in March on the Spanish-language TV network Univision that information would not be turned over to immigration officials, and a letter from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement quoting Obama’s promise that was used for outreach to the Latino community, the community was still nervous. Some were afraid when they saw the agency letterhead, according to Lee.