- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A nonprofit led by a former aide for President Obama will target the Hispanic population — particularly mothers — in the coming weeks as part of the push to inform Americans about potential benefits under the new health care law.

Enroll America officials say the fast-growing Hispanic population accounts for about a third of the uninsured population who will be eligible to enroll in state-based insurance markets, known as exchanges, tied to the Affordable Care Act.

The exchanges are portals where Americans without employer-based coverage can buy coverage, often with the help of government subsidies. Open enrollment begins Oct. 1 for coverage that takes effect in 2014.

Enroll America’s president, Anne Filipic, a former deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, said the group is sending out field teams to work with Hispanic community groups in states like Florida, which has a high number of uninsured residents.

They will put a special emphasis on reaching out to mothers, who hold sway over young people.

For the law to work, young, healthy Americans need to enroll in the exchanges to balance out the risk pool when sicker persons with pre-existing conditions enter the individual market because they can no longer be denied coverage.

Republican critics of the law have pointed to rate hikes in select states — premiums are expected to fall in others — as proof that Obamacare is a misguided attempt by the federal government to inject itself into the insurance market.

Conservative think tanks have also argued young people should not be required to purchase insurance, the result of the law’s individual mandate, to effectively subsidize insurance for older, sicker Americans.

Ms. Filipic said young people do value health insurance and want to obtain it, despite reports to the contrary.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest,” she said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters.

The National Hispanic Medical Association and the Service Employees International Union are among Enroll America’s partners in the effort.

Eliseo Medina, a secretary-treasurer at SEIU, said Obamacare benefits could save some members of the Hispanic community from financial ruin.

“For them, this can be a life-changer,” he said.

Census figures released Monday said 15.5 million of the roughly 53 million of Hispanics living in the United States, or 29 percent, were uninsured in 2012.

Although the U.S. Hispanic population rose by 1 million during the one-year period, Hispanics saw a 1 percent drop in the proportion of uninsured persons.

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