Last week, President Barack Obama saw a victory for his Affordable Care Act aptly namedObamacare when it exceeded its goal of 7 million enrollees at the midnight deadline on March 31st, 2014. On April 1st, President Obama announced that 7.1 million people had enrolled in the program and have received coverage. However, the move to get people to enroll was a long road, especially when it came to enrolling one of the largest groups in America: Latinos.
Prior to its October 2013 launch, analyzers of Obamacare believed Latinos and African-Americans would be the most likely groups among others to sign up. However, due to several issues regarding a miscommunication between officials and members of the Latino community the number of Latinos enrolling was not as high as theorized.
One of the states to receive the highest enrollment of Latinos at the last minute was California. In March, the states saw an astounding 36% enrollment of Latinos compared to the 18% that signed up during October, November, and December.
“Our enrollment became more diverse in this last month, particularly among California’s Latino population; our enrollment became younger,” said Peter Lee, the Covered California Executive Direct which is an organization directed at getting consumers to sign-up for health coverage.
In rise of Latinos enrolled was due to the escalated outreach efforts within seven Latino communities within the state of California, “I’m happy to note that hard work appeared to have paid off…. Our focus both by region, and on in-person and in-language support, is now making a difference,” added Lee.
According to preliminary data released by Enroll America—a non-profit organization aimed at enrolling Americans into retaining health coverage—the highest group of people who were uninsured consumers were young Latinos and African-Americans.
According to data collected from outreach efforts, Young Latinos and African-Americans had to be reportedly contacted multiple times, and “by the time they had been contacted…that gap significantly shrinks and they were nearly as likely to enroll as other consumers.”
Operating in 11 states across America, Enroll America had 27,000 volunteers and more than 2,300 organizations that aided the group in getting citizens to enroll. With its volunteers the group said that they contacted an estimated 5 million consumers through its website and phones. Meanwhile, the group claims that in one-on-one conversations with consumers an estimated 635,000 were contacted about enrolling.
In its operation the group notes that 43% of Latinos and African Americans were more likely to seek in-person help. The group discovered that this 43% used local, in-person assistance. While it sounds as if the lack of enrollment amongst Latinos was due to an issue regarding being reminded to enroll, the true issue for Latinos not enrolling was due to a glitch in the enrollment website and failing to communicate and answer some concerns within the Latino community.
The launch of health.gov received a backlash in that the site featured a malfunction in the English-language website which delayed start of a Spanish-language website. In-addition with the site glitch, Latinos did not also enroll due to fears that if they were to enroll they would people non-citizen family members at risk for deportation which is a hot button issue in this country.
While the launch nearly prevented many from becoming insured, outreach organizations and the numerous attempts by President Obama in reaching out to the Latino community proved useful. The errors seen at the start regarding getting Americans to enroll for health coverage should be a reminder on an issue that is generally overlooked.
While we are all Americans, some of us should be approached based upon our needs regarding the community in-which we live in. The assumption that all of society understands or takes in information as a whole could be damaging because we each understand and absorb information in our own different way.