With barely three days until the registration deadline, only three percent of California’s 17 percent African-American uninsured population have enrolled in Obamacare.

“The African American numbers are really disappointing and disturbing,” says Robert Ross, a Covered California board member and chief executive of the California Endowment.

Ross has asked state officials to examine outreach efforts to African Americans – including enrollment events at mall kiosks, churches and even a nightclub – and any lessons to be learned before the next open enrollment in November.

Looking at the state as a whole, more than 1 million residents have chosen a plan through the health exchange as of mid-March. Some experts say the low African-American enrollments only underscore the challenges in expanding coverage to historically underserved communities. “It’s not easy,” says Dr. Brownell Payne, a physician who works with Crenshaw Health Partners, a state-certified enrollment group.

Yet others say attempts to ramp up Spanish-language marketing may have taken away from outreach to other minorities. Latino signups have increased in recent weeks amid a multimillion dollar marketing blitz.

“From Covered California all the way down, there just hasn’t been a lot of outreach” in African-American neighborhoods, says Carla Singleton, a marketing manager for L.A. Care.

But at this point, there isn’t much more time to address the low turnouts. Monday remains the deadline for open enrollment. However, California is one of the states that will give enrollees until April 15 to finish their application if they start it before midnight on Monday.


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  • RJ

    It is beyond comprehension how a person could be against people getting insurance to take care of their health. I do not want to know anyone who is rallying against this program in anyway.

    As far as those falling through the crack, they will be taken care of when America joins the civilized world and follows the example set by England and Canada. The Affordable Care Act is just the beginning.

  • BabyBlue

    I live in California and with months of constant battling and wanting answers I’ve finally signed up. It was a lot of catering to the “Spanish speaking” community which really ticked me off. By the time I could speak to someone that person couldn’t speak English. It’s upsetting and somewhat frustrating