Survey Looks at Medicaid Unwinding Experiences for Spanish Speakers

By Melody Emenyonu, CCF communications intern, and Kelly Whitener

The Protecting Immigrant Families recently partnered with UnidosUS and Noticias Para Inmigrantes to conduct a survey focused on Spanish-speaking adults and their experiences with Medicaid unwinding and the re-enrollment process. All 2,125 participants of the survey had at least one member of their family enrolled in Medicaid. Participants were from 43 states and the District of Columbia, with the most participants coming from California.

The results of the survey showed that 34% of participants had frequently encountered information about the Medicaid re-enrollment process while nearly equal shares had heard nothing (30%) or had heard only a little (36%). Though data could not be stratified for every state, the survey highlights that 71% of Florida participants heard little or no information about re-enrollment. California, Texas, and Illinois did slightly better, but still about two-thirds of respondents (65%) heard little or nothing about Medicaid re-enrollment. Though some states did better than others, these findings indicate a nationwide problem surrounding awareness. Alarmingly, only 6% of all survey participants knew to look for a letter in the mail with information about re-enrollment, despite efforts by the federal and state governments to notify people about the coming changes.

The survey also found that only 24% of all participants reported receiving a letter about re-enrollment. Texas had the highest share of participants stating that they had received letters (32.25%), but unfortunately the unwinding outcomes in Texas are poor – at the writing of this blog, 29% of all renewals completed resulted in procedural terminations and another 29% are still pending. New York had the lowest share of participants reporting receiving letters (12.42%), but unwinding outcomes in the state are better – just 13% of renewals have resulted in procedural terminations and only 3.3% are still pending. Granted, the unwinding data is not exclusive to the same Spanish-speaking population as the survey, but the comparison helps to paint a more detailed picture of whether families are able to navigate the re-enrollment process. Clearly, states need to do more to increase awareness in the Spanish-speaking community and simplify the enrollment process.

Respondents also answered questions about common misinformation they encountered about Medicaid. Over half of all the participants reported hearing common misinformation messages; for example, a quarter of all participants heard that Medicaid coverage is limited to US citizens and over 15% of respondents heard that using Medicaid could have negative effects on future applications for permanent residency. These misconceptions are harmful because they present barriers to enrollment in Medicaid and other safety net programs that families need to meet their nutritional, health, housing and other needs. More needs to be done to ensure families have accurate, timely enrollment information and are able to navigate the Medicaid enrollment process successfully.

[Editor’s Note: For more survey results on Medicaid unwinding, read blog by Natalie Lawson.]