Health Talk

Latinos may not get same hard sell on Obamacare this year


Latinos, who just a year ago were highly sought customers for the Affordable Care Act‘s marketplace plans, may not get the same hard sell this year.

The Trump administration’s laissez-faire approach toward the upcoming Obamacare enrollment period could reverse advances made in the number of Latinos covered, community activists fear. A shorter enrollment window and cutbacks in federal funding for marketing and navigator groups have the potential to cause Latino enrollment to slip, they say.

Enrollment outreach efforts during the Obama administration targeted Latinos, both because they have a high uninsured rate and a large proportion of the community is young and fairly healthy. These criteria are prized by insurers to help balance older, sicker customers.

Nearly a million people who identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic enrolled in marketplace plans this year, making up a tenth of customers. The uninsured rate among Latinos dropped from 43% in 2010 to less than 25% in 2016. Still, millions are eligible and remain uninsured.

Enrollment for the 39 states using the federal website began Wednesday and ends Dec. 15, about a month and a half less than in the previous year. Some states running their own exchanges have extended that period into January.

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