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Study: Over 100,000 Californians likely to miss out on health care due to language barriers
Date:2/29/2012

Language barriers could deter more than 100,000 Californians from enrolling in the Health Benefit Exchange, according to a study released today by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

The study presents findings from a UC BerkeleyUCLA micro-simulation that estimates the likely enrollment in health care reform programs in California. Specifically, the study projects that more than 1 million limitedEnglish proficient (LEP) adults will be eligible to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the state's 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.

"The evidence suggests that Californians who do not speak English very well are at a disadvantage in terms of accessing health care reform programs," said Daphna Gans, a research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the lead author of the study.

The UC model shows that if language is not a barrier, participation by LEP adults could increase to 53 percent, a difference of approximately 110,000 individuals.

"These are difficult times for California families, and ensuring every Californian has access to quality, affordable health care is vital for our economic recovery," said California Assembly Speaker John A. Prez, who authored legislation (AB 1602) in 2010 establishing the exchange. "The Health Benefit Exchange will help lower the cost of health insurance for every Californian, but it's vital for every eligible Californian to enroll to ensure we bring health care costs down as much as possible for California's working families."

In California, more than 15 million residents speak a language other than English at home and nearly half (7 milli
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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdriscoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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