Thu, Sep 26 2013
The Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov will not be equipped to handle online enrollments on Oct 1., according to an Obama administration official. Instead, Spanish speakers will have to wait until Oct. 21 to sign up online.
The official said the new signup date should not be considered a delay, but rather the administration is choosing to unveil the online enrollment tool to coincide with a “week of action” around Hispanic Heritage Month, in which community organizations and local, state and federal government partners will highlight the importance of the Affordable Care Act for Latinos.
Hispanic Heritage Month, however, began on Sept. 15 and ends on Oct. 15. The delay was first reported by the Associated Press.
More than 10 million Latinos are expected to be eligible for new public and subsidized health coverage options, making them the demographic group most likely to benefit from the health law - and a key to its success. They’re more likely to be young - nearly half of Hispanics are under 26 years old. That’s important for the insurance pools, because young and healthy people need fewer medical services, and insurance companies can use their premiums to balance the needs of older or sicker patients.
Spanish speakers who live in states where the federal government is running the marketplace and want to enroll before Oct. 21 can fill out paper applications and receive assistance through call centers and navigators. As long as they sign up by Dec. 15, they will have coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
“Our hope is that they take this with the level of urgency that it deserves and that they move forward as quickly as possible to get Spanish information online,” says Jennifer Ng’andu, who heads the health and civil rights policy project at the National Council of La Raza. “The Latino community is at the crux of the ACA enrollment strategy, so moving forward there needs to be more intention and a more targeted effort to make sure this kind of glitch doesn’t happen again.”