HHS: Most uninsured Latinos eligible for reform coverage

Insurers looking to boost their enrollment in health insurance exchange plans should consider reaching out to one key consumer group--Latinos.

One in four individuals who are eligible for the federal exchange are Latino, concluded a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. About 10.2 million Latinos could receive federal subsidies to help them pay for health coverage sold on HealthCare.gov.

The problem, however, is encouraging Hispanic consumers to take the steps to determine whether they're eligible for the subsidies. Many simply assume they don't qualify, reported the Arizona Republic.

"The majority of those people just don't know (subsidies) are there," Pati Urias, Arizona spokeswoman for Enroll America, which conducts reform-related outreach, told the Republic. "We're hopeful over the next six weeks that we get a lot of exposure working with the Latino community."

If insurers want to reach out to the Hispanic population to encourage them to enroll in an exchange plan, the good news is 63 percent of uninsured Hispanics who are eligible for coverage either speak English as a first language or "very well" as a second language, HHS said in the report.

And since the majority of Latinos (62 percent) live in California, Texas and Florida, insurers operating in those states would particularly benefit from conducting specific outreach efforts. Even insurers in states like Arizona could reap the benefits of boosting exchange awareness throughout the Latino community. To recruit more Hispanic consumers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona has conducted public-service announcements with Spanish television networks Univision and Telemundo.

"This Hispanic marketplace is a priority of ours," Arizona Blues' Senior Vice President of Strategy, Sales and Marketing Jeff Stelnik told the Republic. "We've invested significant time, money and resources to educate, engage and ultimately enroll the Hispanic marketplace."

Meanwhile, the Obama administration also is targeting the Hispanic population to help increase exchange enrollment. "Robust outreach efforts [are] underway" in Hispanic communities across the country, Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said during a news conference, the Miami Herald reported.

To learn more:
- here's the HHS report (.pdf)
- read the Arizona Republic article
- see the Miami Herald article