Ken Carlson

More Latinos signing up through health exchange

Covered California reported that a larger number of Latinos are applying for insurance from the state’s health exchange.

Through Monday, more than 300,000 state residents had inquired about coverage and were found to be eligible under the federal health law. Latinos made up 50 percent of those who gave information about their ethnicity.

The ethnic background of 230,000 who took the additional step of choosing a health plan was 38 percent non-Latino white, 28 percent Latino, 19 percent Asian and 3 percent black. Almost 30 percent of consumers did not respond to questions about their race.

The enrollment figures are more diverse than the turnout for the first Affordable Care Act sign-up period a year ago, Covered California said.

The health exchange has focused more outreach on Latinos in places such as the San Joaquin Valley. Along with advertising designed for the ethnic group, the exchange has a Spanish-language enrollment website, increased the number of bilingual service center representatives and partnered with community groups to help people enroll.

Since Nov. 15, more than a million people have inquired about coverage in California, including 540,500 who were determined eligible or chose health plans and 466,000 enrolled in the Medi-Cal program.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said the agency will concentrate on getting Latino applicants to complete enrollment. The application period runs through Feb. 15.

“We are going to be directing our service center representatives, especially our bilingual staff, to begin outbound calls to those who have been determined eligible but may have stalled after completing part of the application,” Lee said. “It is very exciting to see that our effort to get people in the door seems to be working.”

The same four insurers are offering exchange health plans in the region including Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced and Mariposa counties. The insurers are Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross and HealthNet.

Spanish speakers can explore their options for health coverage at www.coveredca.com/espanol. A Covered California service center can be reached by calling (800) 300-1506.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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