More than eight million people enrolled in a marketplace plan from October 2013 to March 2014 during the first enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. Hispanics made up 15% of the share of reported enrollments where ethnicity was known, or an estimated 1.2 million Hispanics overall, a number that is slightly behind when compared to non-Hispanics. As more data* becomes available, we gain insights into the main obstacles that contributed to lower enrollment. Here are some details:
Lack of Information:
There were knowledge gaps about key aspects of the ACA. For example, 28% of Hispanics that enrolled knew that the health law required plans to cover preventative care for free vs. 35% of non-Hispanic whites. In addition, only 37% of Hispanics knew that health plans cannot deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions vs. 64% of non-Hispanic whites.
Like other groups, cost concerns were a barrier among Hispanics who did not look for coverage (41% vs. 58% non-Hispanic whites). In fact, 25% of Hispanics knew that the law gives financial help to low and moderate income Americans vs. 47% of non-Hispanics whites. Hispanics were also more likely to be unsure about their healthcare eligibility— 26% of Hispanics vs. 7% of non-Hispanic whites believed that they were not eligible.
Method of Enrollment:
In-person outreach has an impact on enrollment for Hispanics. Data shows that newly-enrolled Hispanics were more likely to say that they received in-person enrollment assistance compared to others (34% vs. 12% non-Hispanic whites).
As the second enrollment period approaches (November 15, 2014), there is an opportunity to learn from this data. More Spanish-speaking navigators and in-person assistance targeted to the community are key. Also, since Hispanics rely on – and trust – media sources like TV, radio and digital for their healthcare news, the industry should explore ways to bring accurate and complete information to the Hispanic community via these mediums to increase participation.
Everyone – including Hispanics – wants the security of health coverage; an effort to raise awareness in the ways that resonate with Hispanics is critical.
*Enroll America—conducted by PerryUndem Study, 2014