Enrollment groups are encouraging Americans, especially Latinos and other minorities, to explore their Obamacare coverage options this week as the race to obtain health insurance this year enters the last stretch.
The final week of open enrollment for 2015 coverage ends Sunday. HHS has not said if there will be an extension, as there was last year. About 10 million Americans had either signed up or automatically re-enrolled in exchange plans as of Jan. 30. That's above HHS' goal of 9.1 million. But current figures don't factor in whether applicants have paid their first month's premium.
More young people are signing up, which insurers like. Roughly 35% of those selecting plans on the federal exchange were 34 years old or younger. But minority sign-ups are below targets. “For Latinos in particular, enrollment is still lagging,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Latinos represent about a third of the uninsured in the U.S., making them a top target for coverage. But many are undocumented immigrants, and therefore are not eligible for exchange coverage, subsidies, or Medicaid. Levitt said that while Latinos account for 15% of marketplace-eligible enrollees, as of Jan. 16, only 10% of all federal-exchange enrollees were Latino. That's only slightly better than last year.
Latino enrollment suffered in 2014 because of a lack of face-to-face interaction and inadequate Spanish-language outreach materials, marketing experts said. This week will tell how much those efforts have improved. “There was a huge surge in the last week last year, and I would expect a surge this year,” Levitt said.