March 31st Deadline Looming But Not All Latinos Embracing ACA


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Robert Cyr
While more than 329,000 low-income families across the state still receive federally-funded healthcare, some are signing up for insurance coverage with the help of their healthcare provider, but many are choosing to keep their subsidized coverage rather than lose money by going it on their own with ObamaCare, say healthcare officials.
At East Hartford Community Healthcare, part of First Choice Health Centers, Latinos make up 30.8 percent of the 16,656 customers.  More than 90% are at or above 200 percent of the poverty level and 23.2 percent were uninsured.
A health center spokesman, who declined to give his name, said the Affordable Care Act hasn’t been what many were hoping it would be, and that “it definitely hasn’t been smooth sailing” for many low-income, but fully employed, families.
“Some people are voluntarily opting out of the system and feeling they’d rather pay the fine than having to give up $200 to $300 a month to be able to pay for a qualified health plan,” he said.
Latinos are 14.2 percent of the state population, according to census data, and constitute 45.4 percent of clients who use federally-subsidized state healthcare, according to federal data.
At Willimantic’s Generations Family Health Center, where Latinos constituted 22.1 percent of the 19,945 people who were served there in 2012, 91.9 percent were at or above 200 percent of the poverty level and 23.2 percent were uninsured, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
“Almost all the clients do qualify for some sort of health plan, and a large portion of them qualify for Husky,” said Generations spokesman Brian Bonds. “It just allows people to take control of their healthcare.”
Staff at Generations have also been helping clients sign up for insurance through Access Health CT, the state group tasked with implementing the Affordable Care Act. It’s expected that 800 or more people will sign up for plans through the health center before the March 31st deadline for enrollment, Bonds said.
After the March 31st deadline, the next enrollment is not until November 15th and coverage does not begin until January 1, 2015, which means those uninsured families or individuals may be subject to a penalty unless they have a qualifying event and can get insurance.  Qualifying events are described in a previous story http://ctln.local/2014/03/23/health-insurance-deadline-what-happens-next/.
Another aspect of the ACA of which many  people may also be unaware, is this upcoming deadline also means no one can enroll directly with any other health insurance plan either, unless they have a qualifying event.