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Politics

Once Supportive Hispanics Turn Their Backs on Obama, Obamacare

December 18, 2013 - 6:00pm

They were among President Obamas best supporters, but support for the president and his signature health insurance scheme is quickly dying among Hispanics.

A recent Gallup poll showed Obamas approval rating among Hispanics down 23 percent, to 52 percent in November from 75 percent in December 2012.

Hispanics approval ratings of Obama have shown the most variation of any groups ratings throughout his presidency, the pollsters said when they released their report Dec. 5. That means their views of him are less firmly anchored than those of other groups, which may help explain why their opinions of the president soured more than any other groups in recent months.

Thats not good news for the president, who is in desperate need of Hispanic support for the Affordable Care Act. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report found that Hispanics account for 32 percent of the nations non-elderly uninsured population -- just the group he needs to buy into Obamacare to make it a success.

So, why the sudden shift?

For starters, the Spanish language website, cuidadodesalud.gov, isnt finished. The pages where customers select a plan are still in English.

And that can cause big trouble for non-English speakers.

If people are not selecting the right plan for themselves, depending on how they need or expect to use the insurance for the upcoming year, it might affect their financial bottom line, said Luis Chaves of the Pangea Financial Group, who closely follows health care-related issues.

For example, if I pick a plan that has a lower cost but I know that I have to have outpatient surgery, I might be better off selecting a plan that costs a little more per month but that has a co-payment for surgery of $300 instead of the plan that costs less but I have to pay the first $6,350, Chaves said. You always have to add up the monthly premium plus the amount of money you would have to pay for services you plan to use during the year.

And then theres a lack of general information, though the feds have held little back trying to promote the program.

Hispanic people ask questions, and we all are a little confused, said Chanel Valcarcel, a pharmacist at one of the many Navarro Discount Pharmacy locations in Miami-Dade County. Here, we try to explain what it is and refer (people) to the federal website. We are also working with private companies such as Blue Cross (Blue Shield) and health-care reform advisers.

But even thats not working for some people.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been to South Florida three times in three months, trying to drum up support, to little avail.

I havent seen it. I dont know about (the law), Miamian Matias Garcia told Florida Watchdog.

Miami resident Alina Lambert hasnt seen it, either.

But I heard from family and friends that its pretty bad. They have a hard time trying to use it, and its pretty expensive.

But the feds arent giving up. The Obama administration has pledged a Hispanic-focused marketing blitz beginning in January and has pushed back until March the deadline for registering for an insurance plan.

Contact Marianela Toledo at Marianela.Toledo@FloridaWatchdog.org twitter @mtoledoreporter.

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