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New North Carolina hotline helps Spanish speakers with Medicaid, health care information

The Hispanic Federation North Carolina Team
Photo courtesy of Hispanic Federation North Carolina
The Hispanic Federation North Carolina Team

Versión en español aquí.

For many in Western North Carolina, getting information on health care coverage is difficult – especially for communities where English is a second language.

TheHispanic Federation – a national organization with the mission of empowering the Latino community, supporting Latino families, and strengthening Latino nonprofits – hopes to bridge the gap. It created NC Salud, a new hotline to provide health information to Spanish-speaking communities, especially in rural North Carolina.

The Latino population of North Carolina has been rising. According to the 2010 U.S. Census data, there were 825,000 Hispanics or Latinos living in North Carolina. The 2020 U.S. Census shows there are more than 1.1 million North Carolinians who are Hispanic or Latino. Of this population, a little over 53,000 live in WNC counties.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reports that as of June 2024, there are a total of 479,153 people enrolled in expanded Medicaid – 43,599 of whom are Hispanic or Latino.

Lariza Garzon, the Hispanic Federation director of North Carolina and Mid-South Operations, said the new hotline is especially important in rural areas, which comprise much of Western North Carolina.

“If you look at our last census, you will see that the highest growth of the Latino population happened in rural areas,” said Garzón. “Despite this situation, our community in rural areas can continue to be very vulnerable because they often struggle to find information regarding resources and services in a language that they can understand.”

Through the hotline, callers can access details about Medicaid enrollment and Affordable Care Act health care marketplace eligibility. NC Salud also can help callers contact with local Spanish-speaking health care navigators to help them apply for Medicaid or the ACA.

The hotline also provides resources for callers who don't qualify for Medicaid or ACA by sharing information with them regarding free or discounted health care services.

“Overall, we just try to serve as a bridge between services and the community,” Garzón said.

NC Salud partners with WNC organizations likeVecinos,CIMA, True Ridge, Tierra Fértil, Centro Unido Latino Americano, and UNIDXS.

Garzon says in the first month, they have received many calls from the community which is encouraging.

“The callers that have contacted us for the last month have really helped us shape our program and realize what are the gaps and information that we need to cover,” explained Garzon. “We encourage everybody to keep calling because the more callers that we have the more resources we can compile and the better services people will get in the future.”

NC Salud health hotline can be reached at 1-844-438-6827.

Jose Sandoval is the afternoon host and reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio.