Guiding minorities through the health insurance maze

State and social service agencies are educating immigrant citizens about the Affordable Care Act and helping them apply for coverage, but it's a slow process that leaves many behind. 

With more than 200 languages spoken in California, smaller immigrant groups may not receive health insurance information in understandable terms, according to California Health. And though the state translated insurance information into languages spoken by its largest ethnic groups, smaller communities with low English speaking proficiency are lacking comparable support.  

To help reach them, the state's exchange distributed $40 million in grants to community-based organizations, faith-based groups, nonprofits and local governments, California Health reported.    

An estimated 10 million Latinos are eligible for health insurance, and their enrollment is crucial to the Affordable Care Act's success, according to Health News Florida. But since Spanish version of the federal health insurance website--isn't working, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is sending users to its Spanish call center.  

HHS Press Secretary Fabien Levy told Health News Florida via e-mail that market research shows Latinos prefer personalized help over enrolling online, and that 70 percent of them will apply for health insurance in English.  

Moreover, 33 percent of Latinos surveyed by the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision said they are likely to enroll in an ACA-related insurance product, whether Medicaid or the commercial insurance available on state exchanges. A number of hurdles remain, as Latino healthcare organizations say they lack the funds or bilingual staff to do appropriate outreach.

To learn more:
-  read the California Health report
- see the Health News Florida article