Latinos Lag in Covered California Enrollment


Although Covered California continues to boast strong enrollment numbers, Latino sign-ups are not keeping pace with general population numbers. Out of 400,000 Covered California customers who responded when asked about their ethnic background, less than 20 percent identified themselves as Latino, Hispanic or Spanish.


These numbers are concerning, especially since Latinos make up more than half of California’s 7 million uninsured residents. The success of Covered California rests in part on strong numbers of young, healthy enrollees, and California’s Latino population tends to fit this profile.


This discrepancy between Latino healthcare enrollees and the actual number of eligible, uninsured Latinos in California underscores the importance of providing LEP customers with information in their primary language. Latinos face both linguistic and cultural barriers when attempting to read, understand and navigate the Covered California website.


Aside from translation errors that caused difficulty in understanding the website and online enrollment portal, cultural barriers are also a problem. Potential Hispanic applicants are wary of divulging personal and financial information they feel could be used against their families in a deportation situation.  Some families have mixed-immigration status: undocumented parents with documented children – and these families fear that by providing the personal information required to enroll, they risk deportation. Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement has assured applicants that this information cannot be used for enforcement purposes, Latino groups remain skeptical.


To encourage Latinos to sign up for healthcare, Covered California is seeking to address many of these problems. Fixing translation issues on the website, hiring more bilingual counselors, and providing greater outreach to Latino populations all play a part in encouraging more Spanish-speaking customers to sign up.


As both Covered California and grapple with issues related to translation, it is clear that choosing a translation company that provides exceptional, high-quality translation is critical to a successful outcome.