Access Health CT Spanish-language website to launch Friday

After months of delays, the Spanish-language website for Connecticut’s health insurance exchange is slated to be available Friday.

James Wadleigh, chief information officer of Access Health CT, the state’s exchange, said the Access Health website will undergo maintenance Thursday night. On Friday morning, the Spanish-language site will be up.

In addition, there will be some changes to the existing website, he said, including one aimed at making it easier for people to enroll in catastrophic plans. There’s also a fix intended to stop applicants from being wrongly informed that they’re ineligible for coverage because they’re incarcerated. Wadleigh said the exchange is incorporating data from the state Department of Correction to address that issue, which has affected between .5 and 1 percent of the exchange’s customers.

Exchange officials hope the Spanish-language site will help increase enrollment among Hispanics, who represent between 20 percent and 25 percent of the state’s uninsured residents. Access Health CEO Kevin Counihan said last week that the exchange has not done as well as it should at reaching Hispanics, and that the Spanish-language website should have been up earlier.

He noted that the Access Health application offers people a chance to receive notifications in Spanish, but the option is described in English.

It’s not clear how many Hispanics have signed up for coverage through Access Health, which was created as part of the federal health law to enroll people in private insurance and Medicaid. The exchange did not begin asking applicants about their race and ethnicity until December.

According to a report released by the federal government last week, Connecticut has 412,000 Hispanics who are eligible for coverage under Obamacare -- that is, who are in the country legally.

Of those, 59,000, or about 14 percent, are uninsured and eligible for coverage, according to the report.

Overall, Hispanics are more likely than other U.S. residents to be uninsured, the report found. Of the 41.3 million “eligible uninsured” U.S. residents under 65, nearly a quarter -- 10.2 million -- are Hispanic. By contrast, Hispanics make up 16 percent of legal U.S. residents under 65.

More than half of the eligible uninsured Hispanics live in California and Texas. Just 0.6 percent live in Connecticut.

Of the uninsured eligible Hispanics in the U.S., 64 percent say they speak English as a first language or at least very well as a second language, while 37 percent rely on Spanish. Twenty-seven percent live in a household without an English-speaking adult, according to the report.

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About Arielle Levin Becker

Arielle Levin Becker was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on home caretakers from the National Association of Health Journalists. Arielle previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter. She also has covered education and municipal beats for The Courant and for the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, N.J. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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