Study: Obama Administration Fails at Latino Outreach For Obamacare

A national survey shows 8 in 10 uninsured Hispanics have not visited the exchanges.

Customers sit with insurance agents from Sunshine Life and Health Advisers as they inquire about purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at the Mall of Americas on Dec. 22, 2013, in Miami.

Sunshine Life and Health Advisers advise customers about purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at the Mall of Americas on Dec. 22, 2013, in Miami. Nearly 70 percent of uninsured Hispanics believe in-person assistance is the most helpful way of receiving guidance about health care. 

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Eight in 10 uninsured Hispanics have not visited the exchanges online and nearly half are unaware of the federal deadline to enroll in health insurance by March 31, according to a report released Thursday.

Latinos are the demographic with the highest rate of uninsurance and the Obama administration's campaign to sign them up has done a poor job of reaching out to them. In California, for example, much of the marketing campaign was "lost in translation," reports National Public Radio.

“I think that when it comes to health insurance it’s a big shift for people who haven’t had it to now be told you have to get it” says Dr. Jane Delgado, president of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. “They still don’t have the information that they need to make those choices.”

Delgado compares choosing which new car to buy to picking a health plan.

[READ: As Key Deadline Looms, Challenges Face Obamacare]

“It’s like knowing that a car’s a good thing to have but you still don’t know how to pick one because of all the intricacies and details,” she says.

The bilingual phone survey, which included responses from 845 Hispanics and non-Hispanics around the country, also found nearly 70 percent of uninsured Hispanics believe in-person assistance is the most helpful way of receiving guidance about health care.

Privacy is also a significant concern.

“One thing that we have been noticing when we’re talking to folks is people have a lot of fear about how much they have to report about their entire family,” says Carrie Rheingans, director of civic engagement at Casa Latina, a nonprofit Latino community center and project manager for the Washtenaw Health Initiative, a group focused on the health care issues of low-income, uninsured and Medicaid populations.

A lot of the families she works with are mixed-status families, meaning that some members have citizenship and others don't.  

[ALSO: Higher-Cost Obamacare Plans Don't Guarantee More Choice]

“On one end we’re telling people, 'Don’t give out your personal information, your Social Security number,” says Delgado. “And then we’re telling them, 'Call this number and give out everything to that person.' So a cautious person will say, ‘No. I want to see the person.’”

Enroll America, a nonprofit group aimed at signing up more people for Obamacare, is hosting 25 summits to help enroll more Latinos. Jose Plaza, the national director of Latino Engagement for Enroll America, says all of the organizations efforts are focused on getting the word out through daily events at churches and community centers as well as via commercials, and social media.

"The assistance is there," he says.

But Delgado says because the Spanish language site wasn't functioning until February, there should be an extension for Latinos – and everyone else, too. Citing the administration's decision to delay the implementation of the employer mandate and other changes, she says, "Obviously something has to be done for the individual."

"If you want to do something you find away," she adds.

After listening to a White House town hall focused on Latinos last week, Plaza doesn't believe the administration will extend the deadline.

"Understanding that the deadline is a hard one, at least from what the administration has said, we’re working within those time frames," he says.