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Achieving Equity by Building a Bridge from Eligible to Enrolled

February 29, 2012

Policy Brief

Authors: Daphna Gans, PhD, Christina M. Kinane, Gregory Watson, MS, Dylan H. Roby, PhD, Jack Needleman, PhD, Gerald F. Kominski, PhD, Ken Jacobs

 This joint publication between the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network examines likely enrollment in California's health care coverage expansion programs and finds that language barriers could deter more than 100,000 Californians from enrolling in the state's Health Benefit Exchange. Specifically, the study projects that more than 1 million limited–English proficient (LEP) adults will be eligible to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the Health Benefit Exchange, which expands access to affordable health coverage as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, only 42 percent of eligible LEP adults are expected to enroll in the program due in part to language barriers. The UC model shows, however, that if language is not a barrier, participation by LEP adults could increase to 53 percent, an increase of approximately 110,000 individuals.

The study recommends a number of actions to make health care reform programs more accessible to LEP populations, including investing in linguistically and culturally appropriate marketing and outreach as well as investing in primary care and workforce diversity in underserved areas.

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