For Immigrants Signing Up for Obamacare, Barriers Are High
“I think the need for information is pretty apolitical,” Lisa Zamosky, a WebMD health policy expert, told USA Today, regarding the need for Americans to understand the particulars of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges that launched this week. It is a need that the Obama Administration understands, but has had problems delivering.
Ever since the President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, the complexities of the health care reform have drawn criticism, and even supporters have winced at the length of the 906 page document because the complexities have caused extreme implementation difficulties and made the dissemination of misinformation easier. But, as polls and man-on-the-street interviews show, even on the eve of implementation, misinformation was rampant. However, for those who do not speak English well, the complexities of the reform, which are already shrouded in political doublespeak, only become more difficult to overcome.
The experience of Sandra Pena, an outreach worker in Bell Gardens, California shows the extent of the lack of awareness among immigrant populations. On the morning of October 1, the first day of enrollment for the health care reform’s cornerstone provision, Pena, with Spanish-language brochures in hand, questioned patients gathered at a crowded health clinic about their understanding of the Affordable Care Act. “Have you heard of the program Obamacare?” She asked, as Kaiser Health News reported. A few of the gathered patients — most of whom were Latino, and many of whom were first-generation immigrants — nodded, but others “stared blankly.”