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Covered California Officials Admit They Need To Do More To Attract Latinos

Evening Edition

Above: We speak with Covered California Spokeswoman Lizelda Lopez and Gary Rotto, director of health policy at the Council for Community Clinics San Diego about what you need to know as the Dec. 23 Affordable Care Act deadline approaches.

Aired 12/19/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests

Lizelda Lopez, Spokeswoman, Covered California

Gary Rotto, Director of Health Policy, Council for Community Clinics San Diego

Transcript

Aired 12/19/13 on KPBS News.

California and other states that operate their own Obamacare exchanges are seeing major surges in enrollment, but people whose primary language is Spanish are largely staying away.

In California, people who primarily speak Spanish make up 29 percent of the population.

But so far, that group makes up only 5 percent of those who’ve signed up for health insurance through Covered California. Officials say statewide in October and November, fewer than 4,500 primarily Spanish-speakers enrolled in a plan.

California is not the only state facing this issue. Kevin Counihan directs Connecticut’s exchange, called Health Access CT. He said Latino enrollment in his state is also low.

“I would say this is an area where I think we need to do a better job," Counihan said. "Our Spanish version of the website is not coming up for a month, and that’s delayed. And I think that there’s more that we need to do.”

Covered California officials agree. They admit that more than two months after the exchange opened for business, there still isn’t a paper application available in Spanish.

Officials say they also need to hire more enrollment counselors who speak the language.

The exchange has set a goal of enrolling 700,000 Californians in subsidized health plans by the end of March.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | December 19, 2013 at 9:36 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Everyone knows latinos don’t buy insurance.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | December 19, 2013 at 10:13 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Alex,

Thanks again for your cultural insight. It's hard to believe you were ever picked-on in school.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | December 19, 2013 at 10:38 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

I suppose that was a little bit of an unfair, blanket generalization. But the stereotype is there, Dave Chappelle even joked about it, so I think there is some truth to it. When I used to drive a car, I was hit two separate times by Latinos, once while driving, another time while parked, and both times, the drivers were uninsured. So in my personal experience with Latinos on insurance related matters, I have found that 100% of them did not buy insurance.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 19, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Why would latinos buy insurance when they just have to go to the E.R. whenever they need some free healthcare?

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Avatar for user 'Tarryn Mento'

Tarryn Mento, KPBS Staff | December 19, 2013 at 12:04 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Hey all,

Thanks for posting your comments on this story. We encourage you to share your thoughts, but please do so while adhering to our Community Discussion Rules. As stated: "Personal attacks, insults, profanity, hate speech or harassment based on class, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, race, sexual orientation or other offensive conduct will not be permitted."

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | December 19, 2013 at 12:59 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the reminder Tarryn Mento, I will be a little more careful with my words here. For the record, I love Latinos, and have many Latino friends!

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | December 19, 2013 at 2:36 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Sorry Tarryn. Sometimes I need a little admonishment to keep me from getting carried away in a moment of passion.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | December 19, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Discrimination: The practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.

Giving Hispanics special treatment, attention, and resources that other groups do not equally get is discrimination.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | December 20, 2013 at 12:26 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Jean: "Why would latinos buy insurance when they just have to go to the E.R. whenever they need some free healthcare?"

So you are against the ACA which would expand coverage so people don't have to use the emergency room as their primary doctor, and you are against emergency rooms treating those who can't pay.

Am I missing some unknown 3rd alternative, or are you advocating the sick poor simply be left to rot on the street ??

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 20, 2013 at 10 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

PDSD, there are many other places besides streets where they could be persuaded to rot if you would find that preferable.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | December 20, 2013 at 3:08 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Benz, I'm in favor of universal healthcare, but for those who aren't, where should the sick poor go if you want to not allow treatment for anyone who can't pay for it or who doesn't have insurance?

Should they hobble out to the woods and bury themselves in a bed of leaves like an old dog ??

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 24, 2013 at 7:47 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

PDSD, I'm in favor of individual responability and freedom. Your suggestionwould be very considerate though it should be a last resort after many other options are exhausted. e.g.
savings
medial line of credit
collateralized loan
unsecured loan
charity
organ sales

I'm sure there are other options you could come up with.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | December 24, 2013 at 10:22 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Benz, perhaps you missed that I said the sick *poor*.

That pretty much eliminated any type of loan option.

And I was talking about people who go to the emergency room with a critical medical condition who can't pay. I was asking if they should be turned away.

Someone who needs immediate medical care doesn't have time to go to banks begging for loans, throwing themselves at the mercy of charities, and the like.

I find the idea of the richest country in the world requiring people to resort to selling organs instead of supplementing healthcare to be absurd.

Any nation on earth is going to have rich and poor, that's just fact.

You can choose to argue about WHY that is and blame the poor for being irresponsible, or you can look at the good if the ENTIRE COUNTRY and realize that EVERYONE bennefits from a healthy society where ALL people have basic healthcare access.

While I disagree with you completely on this Benz, I do wish you and your family a merry Christmas.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 25, 2013 at 7:36 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

@ALEX, that is auto insurance. Of course, also, they might have had Baja plates???

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 25, 2013 at 7:38 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

John Markkk gets passionate over insurance??? LOL

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 25, 2013 at 9:17 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

PDSD, " look at the good if the ENTIRE COUNTRY and realize that EVERYONE bennefits from a healthy society where ALL people have basic healthcare access."

This is where I see the wheels coming off that argument... If the population you were describing were providing production required to keep the country viable they would be able to afford those medical services. The fact that they cannot points toward their being non-essential.

"I find the idea of the richest country in the world requiring people to resort to selling organs instead of supplementing healthcare to be absurd."
This seems an odd stance to take as well. If you have $2M and I am a pauper we are not each millionaires. The money has to come from somewhere, and the appropriate source is the recipient of the service. If the hospital gets to put a spare kidney into someone who needs it and can afford to cover the cost of both treatments what is the downside? It seems Win-Win-Win to me.

In any case, I hope you have a happy holiday as well.

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