Focus on minority enrollment as health care deadline nears


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Focus on minority enrollment as health care deadline nears

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Mar 26, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The deadline to purchase health insurance through Nevada's state exchange is just days away and one focus is on minority enrollment.

This week, several groups expressed concern that Latinos are not signing up for health insurance on the national level, according to the Associated Press.

Several organizations in southern Nevada are working to make sure that's not the case locally.

"We've done a lot of community outreach into the Latino community," said Carolina Chacon, associate at the Ramirez Group in Las Vegas.

The group estimates one-in-three Latinos in Nevada are uninsured, one reason the organization has bilingual navigators to help Spanish speakers enroll.

Nevada Health Link offers a Spanish version of its website and application.

"We know that the interest is there," Chacon said. "We're seeing more and more people come through our doors every day."

Chacon said up to 70-percent of her customers are Spanish speaking. She noted these customers face challenges that have nothing to do with the website's glitches and problems.

"Many of these people have never been insured before so they're not familiar with the terms what a premium is, what a co-pay is, what a deductible is," Chacon said.

The state exchange launched a special campaign through various media to educate the Latino community, spokesman CJ Bawden said. 

Tracking the actual enrollment can be difficult because customers are not required to share demographic information. Some people who use the site looking to purchase a plan instead qualify for Medicaid. Bawden said the state is collecting numbers on the Latino enrollment but did not have them readily available on Wednesday.

"Eight out of ten enrollees that we are seeing are Latinos in our office," said Tibi Ellis, CEO of Consumer Assistance & Resource Enterprise, or CARE.

The office targets minority enrollments. Ellis said the outreach campaigns have paid off, but not everyone is seeking coverage.

"Some of them may be held back by what they perceive to be cost," Ellis said. "Some of them, this is their first time insurance - they're not accustomed to pay for this."

The open enrollment deadline in Nevada is March 31.