Why Does Obamacare Over Invest in Spanish Customer Service?

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has started to publish its weekly reports on Obamacare enrollment via the federally facilitated exchanges.

A little over half a million people have selected a plan for the third open season. What is interesting is the exchanges’ overinvestment in Spanish capabilities. We first noted this last January.

The Snapshot reports that the average wait on the phone for a Spanish-speaking customer-service representative is 11 seconds, versus four minutes and 38 seconds for an English speaker. That’s 25 times longer. 52,023 of the 741,112 calls (seven percent) were in Spanish.


Back in January, we noted the wait times were 23 seconds versus seven minutes 34 seconds. The English wait was 20 times longer than the Spanish wait. So, although both wait times are improving, the Spanish wait (previously trivial) has improved faster than the English wait.

I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. Perhaps it is just a coincidence. And I certainly can’t see why the Administration would want to provide better phone service to Spanish speakers than English speakers. Any ideas?

Comments (1)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    I’ve analyzed the uninsured over the past two decades. Hispanics have uninsured rates about 20 percentage points higher than non-Hispanic whites — even when controlling for income. It could be the Administration is investing in Spanish speaking navigators because it wants to change this trend.

    Or, maybe, the wait is so low because the administration is just unable to attract many Spanish speaking people who actually call.