The Spanish-language federal health-insurance exchange website will accept applications for health insurance by the end of the month, according to a spokesperson at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"Consumers who would like to enroll in health insurance in Spanish today are encouraged to use the Spanish-language enrollment options that are already available at 1-800-318-2596, and through in-person assistance in communities across the country," another CMS spokesperson said in an email statement. CMS is the Health and Human Services agency responsible for the implementation of the federal Obamacare exchange.
Spanish speakers can visit CuidadoDeSalud.gov — the Spanish version of HealthCare.gov — to view educational information about the Affordable Care Act and search for local, in-person assisters.
Consumers seeking to apply in Spanish, however, cannot begin the online application process for coverage, despite the fact that CuidadoDeSalud.gov's enrollment feature has been ready at least since Sept. 10, when CGI Federal affirmed to Congress that it was ready.
Cheryl Campbell, CGI Federal's senior vice president, testified again on Oct. 24 that the only reason CuidadoDeSalud.gov was not accepting applications was because CMS directed them not to make the feature available.
"In your previous testimony I asked you — I asked you if Spanish was going to be part of the rollout of implementation," said Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La. "I asked if it's ready and would it be a seamless experience for a primary Spanish-speaker. You said for the online application, yes. There's reports today that the Spanish-language websites are not up, and it's unclear as to when they will come up. Is that because the websites are not ready or because the administration has chosen not to take them online?"
"CMS directs which components go live and when," Campbell replied.
"So is the Spanish-language website ready?" Cassidy asked. "And if it were up, would it be functional?"
"It would be," Campbell said.
On a press call in late September, Gary Cohen, director of the HHS insurance oversight office, said the Spanish-language website's enrollment feature would be delayed until mid-October.
CMS did not offer comment about why it opted to further delay the enrollment feature of the site.
The agency did, however, say that its market research shows 70 percent of Latinos will apply in English. Already the call centers have fielded more than 65,000 Spanish-language requests.
Roughly 10.2 million Hispanics in the United States do not have health insurance, according to HHS data.