Nearly three months into open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, California's health insurance marketplace is rolling out a Spanish-language application.
The application is available under the "Coverage" tab on the Covered California website. It can be used to apply for private insurance or Medi-Cal.
"It’s vital that Covered California and the Department of Health Care Services reach consumers who may speak other languages, including Spanish," said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee. He did not address why it took so long to have the application in Spanish.
Despite being such a large portion of the overall population, relatively few Latinos signed up for insurance through Covered California in the first two months of open enrollment.
Latinos constitute nearly half of the estimated 2.6 million Californians eligible for federally subsidized health insurance, and more than 2.5 million Medi-Cal members speak primarily Spanish, said California Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas.
Lee said Covered California will expand its outreach efforts to Latinos, adding, "we believe many will want in-person assistance" from certified enrollment counselors, independent insurance agents, or county staff when signing up for coverage.
Covered California noted that about 60 percent of its nearly 3,000 enrollment counselors speak Spanish, along with 12 percent of the more than 9,300 insurance agents certified to help people enroll in an insurance plan.
About 10 percent of Covered California's 481 call center representatives are certified by the state to help callers in Spanish, the agency said. It added that it is working to increase the number of Spanish speakers at its call centers, and in the meantime is using an interpreter service when the volume of Spanish-speaking callers exceeds capacity.
The Covered California Service Center handles calls statewide in dozens of languages.