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Published November 27, 2013, 04:27 AM

MNsure targets rural Latinos

ST. PAUL – Advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to inform hard-to-reach populations about Minnesota’s health care exchange MNsure, but getting the message to Latinos can be especially challenging without help from trusted community organizations – especially in rural Minnesota.

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

ST. PAUL – Advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to inform hard-to-reach populations about Minnesota’s health care exchange MNsure, but getting the message to Latinos can be especially challenging without help from trusted community organizations – especially in rural Minnesota.

That’s why when MNsure officials wanted to teach Latinos in southern Minnesota how to sign up for coverage they turned to people like Charlie Mandile, Minnesota Public Radio reported Tuesday. He’s a health navigator who speaks Spanish and a trusted figure in Latino communities in the Faribault and Northfield areas.

Latinos make up only about 5 percent of Minnesota’s population but are more than 13 percent of the state’s uninsured population.

Mandile is executive director of HealthFinders, a nonprofit with clinics in Faribault and Dundas that received $32,000 to help explain MNsure to Latinos.

“When folks are already feeling like they can’t access services or things are hard to come by for them, they’re going to come to folks that they trust, not a new structure or a new website,” Mandile said.

MNsure’s outreach also includes TV commercials airing statewide on the Spanish-language TV network Univision, and local radio spots. The ads feature the agency’s Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox campaign explaining in Spanish that there are more than 10,000 reasons to get health insurance.

Mandile said many Latinos in southern Minnesota are familiar with the term “Obamacare” but are confused about it. So he’s holding small meetings, canvassing neighborhoods, and having one-on-one interactions at schools, clinics, and community centers around rural Rice County.

Such efforts are what many Spanish-speaking people will need to come to understand – and eventually trust – the heath care law, said Mary Seinko, MNsure’s marketing director.

“It’s not just once or twice that we need to reach them with our communications and outreach efforts,” Seinko said. “It’s like 10, 11, 12 times before we can really expect to see some solid results.”

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