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Race to Enroll Kentucky Latinos as Obamacare Deadline Looms

PHOTO: As many as 1 in 4 uninsured individuals eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace nationwide are Latino. Photo credit: Eden Pictures
PHOTO: As many as 1 in 4 uninsured individuals eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace nationwide are Latino. Photo credit: Eden Pictures
March 25, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. - With a major deadline looming for all Kentuckians to have health-care coverage or face possible penalties, the race is on to enroll the uninsured, with a special focus on the Latino population. According to the Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Minority Health, Mayra Alvarez, Hispanics are represented disproportionately among the uninsured all across the country, and it's vital to close that gap.

"We know that access to health care is an important social determinant of health that contributes to health disparities for Latinos and many populations," she said. "And under the Affordable Care Act, we know that one out of every four eligible Americans for coverage is Latino. That equates to 10.2 million eligible Latinos that will have the opportunity to gain coverage."

Of the total uninsured population in the U.S., Latinos represent almost one in three, twice the 16 percent rate in the population in general.

The deadline to enroll in a marketplace plan for this year is this coming Monday, March 31. Those who don't have health coverage could face penalties. According to the governor's office more than 640,000 uninsured Kentucky citizens, about 15 percent of the state's population, have enrolled.

A majority of the U.S. Latino population is American-born and English-dominant. Surveys show that the longer people are in the U.S., the more likely they are to have insurance.

Historically, one of the biggest barriers Hispanics have faced to getting coverage is financial, but Alvarez said most people eligible for Obamacare can get tax credits to help reduce the cost of monthly premiums.

"We estimate that the majority of folks will pay less than $100 for coverage. A hundred dollars for the security, the peace of mind that health insurance extends is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that people have the coverage that they need and have it at a price they can afford."

With just days to get an application in during this first open-enrollment period, Alvarez advised those who need insurance through the marketplace that there are many options.

"They can do it in person in their community with someone they trust. They can do it online at HealthCare.gov. They can do it via phone at 1-800-318-2596. They can even do it during a paper application. Please don't pass this opportunity up," Alvarez urged in conclusion.

In Kentucky, you can enroll in the Kynect online marketplace at Kynect.KY.gov.

Individuals may be exempted from the requirement to buy insurance if they file a form and qualify (for example, if their previous plan was terminated and no affordable alternative plan is available). If they think insurance is unaffordable based on their projected income, they may be allowed to buy a policy for catastrophic coverage only. Information about exemptions is available at www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/.

More information is available in both English and Spanish at HealthLawAnswers.org.

This story was produced with data and editorial assistance from NewsTaco, www.newstaco.com/.


Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY