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California's Latinos critical for success of Obamacare

August 01, 2013|By Anna Gorman

California has launched a major campaign to educate Latinos about Obamacare before enrollment begins Oct. 1.

More than half of Latinos have little or no understanding of the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent survey by Latino Decisions, an opinion polling organization. The percentage is higher among those who speak mostly Spanish, the survey found.

"There are so many unanswered questions and so much confusion," said David Hayes-Bautista, who heads UCLA's Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture. "The political rhetoric doesn't help."

Covered California, the state's insurance marketplace, is partnering with The California Endowment, which has contributed $25 million to an effort called Asegurate, or Get Covered. The campaign will use Spanish-language television and newspapers to get the word out through talk shows, news programs, town halls and social media. Trusted media voices can help clear up confusion and mobilize people to enroll, said Maricela Rodriguez, a California Endowment program manager.

In addition, health centers, unions and grassroots organizations plan to dispatch bilingual workers door-to-door and to heavy foot-traffic locations in neighborhoods with large concentrations of Latinos.

Hayes-Bautista said the media campaign will raise awareness. But for Latinos, it's that "personal touch" that will motivate them to enroll.

Officials note that enrolling Latinos, who tend to be younger and healthier than the general population, will be critical to balancing out the increased costs of coverage for older, sicker people. In California, roughly 1.7 million Latinos will be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage and another 1.2 will be able to buy subsidized health insurance through Covered California, the state’s new marketplace.

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anna.gorman@latimes.com

@annagorman

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