AUSTIN (KXAN) — The deadline to start signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare is March 31.
As the cutoff date nears, there is a big push targeting Latinos who don’t yet have coverage.
The Hispanic and Latino population in the U.S. now tops 53 million people. Nearly a third of that population under the age of 65 do not have insurance. That was why Thursday’s push to get Latinos to sign up was so critical.
Christian Cruz, 20, was signing up for health insurance for the first time Thursday. He admits it’ll be hard to break old habits.
“If I would get sick, or just a cold or anything, then I’d use home remedies or whatever,” Cruz said. “If it got bad, then we’d go to the doctor.”
He was one of dozens of people signing up for government mandated health coverage during a 36-hour Enroll-A-Thon in Southeast Austin targeted at Hispanics.
“Some of the cultural barriers, obviously the language is one thing,” Frank Rodriguez said of the challenges in getting people signed up. Rodriguez was working with the Latino Healthcare Forum to get people enrolled. “There’s still a digital divide with Latinos. A lot of the folks don’t even have email accounts, so we’re helping them set those up too so we can automate the process.”
Even with the new mandate, most people here admit the benefits of having health insurance outweigh the cost.
“Financially, in the long run, it helps you,” said Fernando Mena. “Because you don’t have to be paying as much as…they charge you in the hospital.”
Texas has one of the worst rates when it comes to people buying insurance. As of March 1, only 38 percent of people eligible to enroll had selected an insurance plan.
Compared to other states, Texas ranked 42nd, meaning 41 other states had a higher percentage of people signed up for insurance.