Covered Calif. Plans To Boost Outreach to Latinos, Youth

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Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, is ramping up its outreach efforts to ensure Latinos and young adults sign up for health coverage ahead of the March 31 open enrollment deadline, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports (Gorman, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 3/14).

Background on Latino, Young Adult Enrollment

More than half of the state's uninsured population is Latino, and 46% of state residents eligible for government health insurance subsidies are Latino.

Latinos are seen as being key to the success of the Affordable Care Act. Many Latinos are uninsured, and they pose a lower financial risk because they typically are younger and healthier than other uninsured residents (California Healthline, 2/25).

As of Feb. 28, 153,561, or 22%, Covered California enrollees identified as Latino.

Meanwhile, about 38% of residents who were found likely to be eligible for Medi-Cal, or 431,680 individuals, identified as Latino (California Healthline, 3/14). Medi-Cal is the state's Medicaid program.

Young adults make up about 36% of those eligible for subsidies, but just 27% have signed up for coverage ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 3/14). About 35% of new Medi-Cal beneficiaries are between ages 18 and 34 (California Healthline, 3/14).

Details of Increased Enrollment Efforts

According to "Capsules," Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said the exchange is "doubling down" its efforts to enroll Latinos and young residents.

Lee said Latino individuals tend to have a "culture of coping" without health coverage, often traveling to Mexico for health care services or relying on safety-net clinics. However, community workers and enrollment counselors have continued to stress the importance of getting covered and using preventive services.

For instance, the exchange has planned events at:

  • Barbershops;
  • Colleges; and
  • Libraries.

Lee noted that efforts would focus on areas of California with large Latino populations, such as:

  • Central Valley;
  • Los Angeles; and
  • Riverside.

In addition to holding community events, the exchange has made improvements to its Spanish-language website and added more bilingual employees. Covered California also initiated a new marketing campaign that includes Latinos who are now enrolled in coverage.

Meanwhile, the exchange also plans to ramp up outreach efforts focused on young adults in the state.

Tamika Butler, the state director of Young Invincibles, said advocacy groups are trying to boost enrollment by urging people to "tell a friend" ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 3/14).

More Outreach Needed for Undocumented Immigrants

As many as 125,000 undocumented immigrants in California who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could qualify for Medi-Cal, according to a report by researchers at the University of California.

Claire Brindis -- director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UC-San Francisco -- said, "There is this disconnect. [Undocumented immigrants] may have used a safety-net provider or they might have used storefront clinics or traditional healers. But often times they don't have the knowledge of how to navigate the very complex health care system" (Gorman, Kaiser Health News/Los Angeles Daily News, 3/17).


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