Latinos face extra hurdles to navigating health care law
Posted October 21, 2013
Durham, N.C. — CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish-language version of the government website being used to sign people up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, didn't go online Monday as planned, and officials couldn't say when it would be up and running.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 percent of the Latino population nationwide lacks health coverage, and many have been waiting to enroll in a plan.
"They're coming day by day, asking so many questions, and the volume of the people who are coming just for questions is very high," said Juan Colon, a bilingual counselor at El Centro Hispano in Durham, who is helping people in the Latino community navigate the health care law's requirements.
The general HealthCare.gov site launched three weeks ago but has been plagued by technical problems – and overwhelmed by demand – since then.
Colon listened carefully to President Barack Obama's statements Monday about the website's problems for any information that might help the people he serves. Obama recommended that people having trouble with the site call 800-318-2596 to enroll or to ask so-called "navigators" like Colon for help with a paper application.
Ricardo Correa, the outreach and enrollment coordinator at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, said a big obstacle for Latino families involves confusion over families with documented and undocumented members.
"Are the parents responsible to actually enroll the kids, even if they are undocumented – the parents are undocumented but the children are citizens?" Correa said.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service said undocumented people aren't eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act.
Any children of undocumented residents who are U.S. citizens are eligible for health coverage under the law, officials said, adding that parents will owe a "shared responsibility payment" if they don't enroll their children, starting in 2015.