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Big gains in Latino health coverage poised to slip during chaotic enrollment season

By in Press Enterprise on November 2, 2017

By California Healthline

By Paula Andalo, California Healthline

Latinos, who just a year ago were highly sought customers for the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans may not get the same hard sell this year.

The Trump administration’s laissez-faire approach toward the upcoming enrollment period for the health law’s insurance marketplaces could reverse advances made in the number of Latinos with coverage, fear navigators and community activists.

Enrollment outreach efforts during the Obama administration targeted Latinos, both because they have a high uninsured rate and because a large proportion of the community is young and fairly healthy, criteria prized by insurers to help balance older, sicker customers, who are more likely to sign up.

Nearly a million people who identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic enrolled in marketplace plans this year, making up a tenth of customers. The uninsured rate among Latinos dropped from 43 percent in 2010 to under 25 percent in 2016. Still, millions are eligible and remain uninsured.

A shorter enrollment season and cutbacks in federal funding for marketing and navigator groups have the potential to allow Latino enrollment to slip, the advocates say.

California is one of about a dozen states that run their own marketplaces, and the state puts up its own money for marketing for Covered California. It will offer consumers a longer sign-up period than the federal government’s six-week window, with enrollment lasting through Jan. 31, the same as last year.

Latinos in California have seen a big gain in coverage since the implementation of the federal health law. The uninsured rate fell from 23 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015, according to the California Health Care Foundation. (The foundation publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent news site produced by Kaiser Health News.)

Still, enrollment efforts in the state will be challenging if consumers don’t understand what is happening to the law as […]    

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