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Az insurer teams with Chicanos Por La Causa on health outreach

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PHOENIX – When Chicanos Por La Causa holds events, representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will be there to connect and inform the Latino community about the Affordable Care Act.

The two organizations have collaborated on a public service announcement airing on Univision and Telemundo.

When people call Chicanos Por La Causa about the federal health insurance exchange that opened this month, they can be transferred to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona for help enroll in its offering.

A partnership announced this week allows the largest Arizona-based insurer to better connect with a community in which one in three lacks coverage and may qualify for federal subsidies for insurance, said Jeff Stelnik, senior vice president of sales, strategy and marketing for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

“We feel there’s an opportunity to really get in there and help educate those who have never had health insurance before,” he said.

Stelnik said health care reform is complicated enough in English.

“When you translate it into Spanish, it becomes even more complex,” he said.

Alicia Nunez, director of CPLC Insurance, a subsidiary of Chicanos Por La Causa designed to educate the public on insurance, said the Latino community has difficulty signing up for insurance because its members may not speak English or have Internet access.

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“So we’re there to help guide them and provide information that will help them make better decisions,” she said.

The partnership will also help establish a level of trust between insurance companies and Latinos, a group that is susceptible to scams, Nunez said.

“We want to be there and provide them information so that they’re not victims of fraud,” she said.

Joseph Garcia, director of the Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the partnership will help Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona gain the Latino community’s trust, noting that the community group helps to establish a one-on-one relationship.

“They know that you have to reach out to the community, and to do that you have to have credibility,” he said. “And I think they gain instant credibility through CPLC, through the partnership where there’s a level of trust.”

Latinos often have jobs that don’t provide health insurance, Garcia said, noting that some make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance premiums.

“There’s a lot of different things that you have to bring to the table first, especially with a group of people who have just lived for years and sometimes generations without health insurance,” he said.

Stelnik said Chicanos Por La Causa is a natural partner to help Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona accomplish that.

“We both share a common goal and a common mission, which is to improve life for Arizonans,” he said.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Kyle O’Donnell/Cronkite News Service

Joseph Garcia, director of the Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the partnership with Chicanos Por La Causa will help Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona gain the Latino community’s trust.

Arizona’s uninsured

- Total: 947,878 eligible for coverage through the federal exchange.

- White: 43 percent

- Latino/Hispanic: 39 percent

- African-American: 5 percent

- Asian-American/Pacific islander: 3 percent

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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