Most of the 4.7 million Californians who could be eligible for health coverage under the federal health reform law will be from minority or underserved communities, and targeted outreach will be needed to ensure that they can access and use the state's Health Benefit Exchange, according to a report by the Greenlining Institute, Asian Journal reports (Asian Journal, 11/4).
The report outlined the challenges to enrolling minority and underserved populations in the exchange, which is scheduled to be implemented by January 2014.
The exchange will function as a Web-based marketplace where consumers can compare health plans. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, whites tend to have more broadband Internet access than Asians, blacks and Hispanics. In addition, blacks and Hispanics do not use the Internet to access government resources as often as whites.
The report noted that smartphones are the "primary means of Internet access" for 38% of blacks and Hispanics. The report recommended that the exchange board carry out text messaging campaigns that include reminders on renewing insurance, making payments and filling out applications (Mohammed, New America Media, 11/3).
The exchange also should make use of kiosks in public places, as well as telephone and in-person assistance in various languages, according to the report (Asian Journal, 11/4).
According to Carla Saporta -- health policy director at the Greenlining Institute and a co-author of the report -- outreach to minority and underserved populations needs to involve community-based organizations (New America Media, 11/3).