Originally published December 19, 2013 at 6 a.m., updated December 19, 2013 at 3:31 p.m.
Lizelda Lopez, Spokeswoman, Covered California
Gary Rotto, Director of Health Policy, Council for Community Clinics San Diego
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.