About 70,000 Spanish speakers across the country have contacted the Obamacare health insurance call centers, federal officials say.While the administration doesn’t have demographic data on enrollments yet, it’s promised a full Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov will be up by the end of the month. And multilingual navigators are available to help consumers.
Leighton Ku, professor of health policy at George Washington University, says documented immigrants are required to participate in the insurance mandate but may have to prove their status.
“In general, it will not be any surprise to people that people who do not speak English will have a problem enrolling,” said Ku. “Partly because of language difficulties, partly because, in many cases, so many of them are immigrants. There are certain requirements that exist for people who are immigrants [not] for the native born.”
In Philadelphia, the Latino community organization Congreso has staff trained to help people enroll.
“I can see how it will be a challenge for community members not well versed in navigating systems or using computers or understanding the language,” said Jose Rivera, vice president of health care services at Congreso. “Without the assistance of our counselors, it will be very difficult for them to be able to do this on their own.”
So far, five individuals have made it through healthcare.gov at Congreso, which has 100 more appointments scheduled.”People who are immigrants face additional barriers enrolling,” said Ku.
“Part of this is because of some of the additional paperwork requirements that are necessary. Some of it is because they worry, if they go participate in a government program, it might get them in trouble,” he said. “At some point, who knows, someone might try to deport them.”