Exchange Increases Outreach to African-Americans Ahead of Deadline

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Very few African-Americans have enrolled in health plans through Covered California, and exchange officials are trying to ramp up outreach efforts before the end of the open enrollment period, the Los Angeles Times reports (Karlamangla/Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 3/26).

Details of African-American Enrollment

Of California residents who selected private coverage through Covered California as of Feb. 28, just 2.6% -- or 18,297 individuals -- identified as African-American (California Healthline, 3/14).

African-Americans make up 7% of California's total population, and about 17% of African-Americans in the state lack health insurance.

Some observers say that the state's efforts to target Latino residents might have taken resources away from outreach efforts focused on African-Americans and other populations.

Efforts To Address Low Enrollment Among African-Americans

Stakeholders are ramping up efforts to enroll African-Americans in health coverage through the exchange ahead of the March 31 open enrollment deadline.

Carla Singleton, an L.A. Care marketing manager, said marketing and outreach efforts have been increasing at churches, which often are trusted among African-American individuals.

Enrollment events also have been held at schools and nightclubs as part of the last-minute sign-up efforts.

During an exchange board meeting last week, Robert Ross -- CEO of the California Endowment and a member of the Covered California board -- called low enrollment among African-Americans "disturbing" and asked state officials to exam their outreach strategy toward the demographic before open enrollment reopens in November (Los Angeles Times, 3/26).

James Roache PharmD
Perhaps the Covered CA Board may wish to consider reaching out to the many volunteer and philanthropic organizations to head up the effort to enroll all eligible people of California rather than taking it on a race by race basis. So far CA Healthline has published stats first on Latinos, then last week the Asian population, now this week, the African Americans. CA Healthline should be applauded for pointing out the racial undertones of the program roll out but continue to report on the success and failures of enrolling all Californians.

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