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Fearing Relatives' Deportation, Latinos Are Big Missing Piece in Obamacare Puzzle

As disappointing Obamacare numbers roll in, Latinos appear to be one of the most overlooked groups with the most potential for the Afforable Care Act. While Latinos generally support Obamacare, many fear that signing up will put family members at risk of deportation.

Though the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a memo to reassure legal residents with undocumented family members that they are not putting their relatives at risk by signing up for Obamacare, many are still wary, Think Progress reported. Members of “mixed-status” families are the most reluctant to sign up.

“These families are just very fearful whether it’s true or not,” California Endowment’s “Get Covered” campaign manager told the National Journal.

“We don’t have any reason to doubt the administration," she added, "but there’s this fear in the community that isn’t just going to go away with a letter.”

Reuters reported that while the Obama administration has released no numbers about Obamacare sign-ups by ethnicity, they expect a low figure from Latinos.

“I would not be surprised if those numbers aren’t what we want them to be right now,” said Mayra Alvarez, associate director of minority health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Latino Americans seem like Obamacare’s target audience, since they are on the whole younger than the general population and often lack healthcare. Enrolling would benefit others Americans, too, since more enrollments would offset high premiums for sick clients.

One big hurdle is that the site is not in Spanish. But even in California, home to the highest population of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the country, the numbers have been low despite the site being in both languages.

Since Oct. 1, 13 percent of online enrollees identified as Hispanic, and only 5 percent enrolled on the Spanish site. The “Get Covered” campaign alone has spent tens of millions on Spanish-language media outreach, but the fear is deep-rooted.

With deportation numbers still high and little visible progress made to stop them or grant amnesty to undocumented residents, it’s perhaps no surprise that Latino Americans would be suspicious of giving their information up to the government to sign up for insurance, despite promises that the information will not be used to prosecute their family members.

Sources: Think ProgressNational JournalReuters


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