Healthcare Enrollment Campaign Identifies Barriers To Obamacare For Low-Income Communities Of Color


November 15, 2012

Contact: Jennifer Kelly, jkelly at

LOS ANGELES – Today, in preparation for the full implementation of ObamaCare in 2014, the Healthcare Enrollment Campaign unveiled its findings of a 4,000 household survey focused on identifying the obstacles low-income communities of color experience when trying to access healthcare programs like ObamaCare.

Funded by the California Endowment and with the guidance of the state’s largest healthcare workers’ union, SEIU-UHW, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, the Healthcare Enrollment Campaign identified eight key barriers to healthcare coverage that must be taken into consideration and overcome as 5 million Californians will soon become eligible for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

“As healthcare workers, we knew that in order for local families to be able to take advantage of the new healthcare law we needed to find out what barriers to healthcare they’ve experienced in the past.  So, with the help of community organizations and volunteers we went door-to-door to find out,” said Martha Alvarez, Executive Committee Member of SEIU-UHW and a CNA at Centinela Hospital.  “In the process, we were even able to help hundreds of those we spoke to enroll in healthcare programs they currently qualify for.”

The survey found that of the 4,000 households interviewed, 1,526 described obstacles they or their family members have faced when trying to obtain coverage.  The eight key areas identified were: immigration status (24%), coverage is too expensive (21%), don’t understand how to enroll (13%), had coverage, but was dropped from the program (13%), income is too high to qualify (13%), enrollment process is overwhelming (11%), lost a job and healthcare coverage (5%), and language barrier (3%).

“The Affordable Care Act is monumental in our work to help people stay healthy.  However, it’s only helpful if we’re able to ensure that those who need healthcare have access to the program,” said Jim Mangia, President and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center.  “That is one reason that the Healthcare Enrollment Campaign’s work to identify these barriers is vital in making sure that the new healthcare law reaches those it was intended to serve here in Los Angeles and throughout California.”

The Town Hall included the presentation of the eight obstacles to healthcare as well as a discussion on possible solutions to overcoming those barriers, along with the personal testimonies of community members about the importance of healthcare and what having healthcare means to them and their families.  There was also an opportunity for individuals and family members to enroll in programs they may currently qualify for.

The Healthcare Enrollment Campaign is part of SEIU-UHW members’ Let’s Get Healthy California campaign, an effort by healthcare workers to improve health and healthcare in their communities.


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