Obamacare enrollment reopens; language, outreach among hurdles

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WASHINGTON – Health care “navigators” in Arizona said they learned a lot during last year’s bumpy rollout of Obamacare and are ready to apply lessons learned to the second round of open enrollment that kicks off Saturday.

Chief among those lessons: You’ve got to speak the language.

“It is a huge frustration. We know how many different language communities there are,” said Zeenat Hasan, director of empowerment and advocacy at Asian Pacific Community in Action in Phoenix.

Language is just one of the challenges navigators are bracing for, along with reaching out to underserved minority communities, verifying immigrant status – and just explaining the maze of health insurance to people who may never have encountered it before.

And navigators think they are prepared, touting new strategies this year to reach underserved communities throughout Arizona that include more language readiness, new partnerships to help reach those overlooked communities and more outreach events with those partners.

Hasan said her organization has a goal of enrolling an additional 2,000 people this year in Obamacare or Medicaid, the insurance option for low-income residents. One way to do that is by reaching the “gap communities,” she said, those that others may not even realize they are missing.

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