Expanding Access to Healthcare for Farmworkers: ACA Open Enrollment Starts Today

Today is the first day of open enrollment for the new health insurance marketplaces. Today, millions of currently uninsured and underinsured individuals living in the U.S. will have the opportunity to purchase affordable, high-quality health insurance. But a lot of work lies ahead.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 67% of the uninsured and 51% of the general public do not have enough information about the law to know how the Affordable Care Act will impact their families. Additionally, 74% of the uninsured and 64% of the general public do not know that open enrollment begins Oct. 1. These statistics are not surprising. In focus groups we conducted with farmworker community-based organizations across the country, the majority we spoke with knew very little about the ACA. And a lot of what they had heard was false information. For example, a promotora de salud/community health worker in California told me she heard that in 2014, a person without health insurance who visits the ER will not only be responsible for the medical bill but will also be assessed a fine.

Misinformation is rampant in farmworker and immigrant communities. This leads to fraud and abuse by scammers who take advantage of this confusion and lack of information. Across the country, community-based organizations and community health centers are reaching out to communities through navigators - people trained to educate community members about the ACA, connect them to resources, and help people enroll in health insurance coverage. Campesinos Sin Fronteras, a farmworker-community based organization in San Luis, Arizona, will have navigators to help the area’s farmworkers understand the ACA. But more needs to be done. 

Farmworker Justice is developing materials for farmworkers on the ACA, including pamphlets, fact sheets, and a training curriculum for outreach workers about the ACA. We are also working with community based-organizations in California, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina to connect eligible farmworker children to CHIP and other health insurance coverage.
Today is an exciting day but we must not forget that it is only the beginning. Please contact us if you have questions or are interested in working with us to expand access to healthcare for our nation’s farmworkers and their families.