Friday, February 14, 2014

Latinos Dramatically Lacking From Health Insurance Exchange Rolls

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 9:28 AM

While federal and state officials continue to pore over the latest numbers of Americans who have enrolled in a health insurance plan through online exchanges, this morning's New York Times reports that many states are struggling to add Latinos to the health rolls.

The Times reports that enrollment problems are playing out in a number of states, especially in California, where enrollment of Latinos—who make up nearly 50 percent of the population—has fallen strikingly below the hopes of proponents of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, a number of states are rushing to expand marketing efforts and hiring additional Spanish-speaking staff, hoping to increase their Latino enrollments by March 31, when 2014 open enrollment ends.

One of the biggest problems, the Times reports, is that among immigrants there is a tangible fear of being deported. Although immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are prohibited from buying coverage on the state and federal exchanges, their American-born children are eligible for federal subsidies or Medicaid. But immigrant advocates say parents still fear their children could be deported if they applied for health coverage through the exchange.

Even those immigrants living in the U.S. legally have expressed fear that if they receive a subsidy through the health exchange, that might jeopardize their chance of permanent citizenship, according to the Times.

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