Study finds thousands of Mo. Latinos have new health insurance options

Feb 13, 2014

A report issued Tuesday by the federal Department of Health and Human Services found that almost 200,000 Latinos in Missouri may have new options for health coverage. The report says they might qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or for lower costs on premiums  through the Health Insurance Marketplace. 43,000 of the eligible Missouri Latinos are currently uninsured, the report says.

Aaron Swaney, outreach and enrollment specialist at the Family Health Center, said the center does have a sizable portion of patients who are uninsured and Latino.

He said Latino people might be more hesitant to come in and get help with insurance because of language barrier issues.

Swaney said that there is now financial assistance built in to help people get insurance, and that new immigrants are often below or at the bottom of the scale of people eligible for help.

They’re kind of this group of people that are on the fence between are they going to get a lot of help to get plans or are they going to get zero help at all because Missouri hasn’t expanded Medicaid,” Swaney said.

Emily Young is the community services program manager at Central Missouri Community Action, which is one Columbia group trained to help people with questions about insurance. She said they have worked with a small population of Latino people in Columbia, but they are trying to reach more.

“There definitely is a need for health care for the Latino population, it’s just whether or not we can connect with the,” Young said. “So we have started to do more outreach. We’ve seen a small number compared to what we know is actually living here in the community.”

Young said more Latinos have sought help from Central Missouri Community Action since the Affordable Care Act was implemented, and that partnerships with organizations such as the health department and the Family Health Center  have helped them get Latino families more information about coverage.

Once they have information, they are taking advantage of that,” Young said. “They are sitting down with a counselor  who they can communicate with in a language that’s understandable to them.”

Young says they hope to be able to continue outreach efforts and reach more Latino families in the community.

Robin Corderman is the consumer assistance program manager for the insurance counseling services department at Primaris/Knowledge Management Associates, another group that helps people with insurance. She said her advice to Latino people looking for coverage would be the same as what she tells everyone else.

Come in or call us, just to talk about your options,” Corderman said. “You do not have to spend a couple hours here doing a full enrollment and picking health insurance, you can just come in and look at what your premium might be, what tax credits you might quality for. It can be as simple as a 15-minute visit or it can be as complex as us taking you through the entire process.”

The deadline to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace is March 31.