Commentary

With The ACA, Are You Ready To Engage Hispanics?

When we look at those who ride the wave of major market booms – whether it was the dot com of the late ‘90s or housing or stocks in the early 2000s – the one thing they have in common is they were not on the sidelines waiting to see what happens. They were on the pitch – being proactive, knowing a shift was coming and charging to get to it first.

Where are you sitting as we approach the biggest game changer in U.S. healthcare of this generation?

In just three short months, 41 million people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be eligible to begin enrolling in new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With coverage to begin as of Jan. 1, 2014, the implementation of the ACA will revolutionize the country’s healthcare system as we know it by providing access to care for millions of previously uninsured Americans. With one in four of the eligible population being Hispanics, they are critical to the success of any strategy addressing the ACA.

Key stakeholders in the ACA marketplace have a lot to lose by sitting on the sidelines. For insurers, 10 million ACA-eligible Hispanics translates to $14 billion potential growth, an increase of about 15% in billings. Healthcare providers stand to see an additional $800 million worth of incremental check-ups alone and the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacies could expect a jump of more than $2 billion in prescription sales. 

For healthcare stakeholders, the time to reach out to Hispanics is now. Waiting on the sidelines is simply not an option. The educational outreach to date has been poor, evidenced by countless studies such as the Kaiser Family Foundations tracker showing this year that 65% of Hispanics do not have enough information about how the ACA will impact their lives. Unfortunately, the numbers for other segments of the population are not much better.

Think about it. There is a lot of change coming. Much of it is confusing – try asking five people for descriptions of those changes, and you’ll likely get five different responses. Add, now, layer  language and cultural barriers on top of that. It can be intimidating.

So, what can advertisers and stakeholders do to make it less intimidating for ACA-eligible Hispanics? What can you do to be a partner in their better health?

First, recognize the opportunity. Although there has been a significant lack of communication, Hispanics’ opinions lean favorably toward the ACA. In fact, those who consider themselves Spanish-language dominant are most positive, with 51% responding favorably to the provisions of the law, versus 41% of English-dominant Hispanics, as reported by the Kaiser tracking polls.

Engage this audience. Communicate the basics, paying special attention to language and messaging. When we partnered with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for an ACA-themed webinar, their research suggested these four concepts as the most important to get across in your messages targeting Spanish-language consumers:  affordability, inclusivity, ease of use and specific explanations about what is covered. 

Leverage family. According to Univision’s Patient Journey research, 57% of Hispanics say they get most of their information about health and nutrition from their family and friends (compared to 41% of non-Hispanics). Don’t forget that the female head of family is extremely influential when making medical decisions for her spouse, children and parents.

For those who wait on the sidelines in this time of great change, it will be a story of what could have been. Where do you stand?

1 comment about "With The ACA, Are You Ready To Engage Hispanics?".
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  1. David DeJesus from Washington Post Media, July 25, 2013 at 6:56 p.m.

    Eric, you've hit the mark with your analysis. I work with healthcare providers in the greater Washington, DC area, and across the country. I agree the Hispanic sector as well as many other demographic segments represent significant opportunity for healthcare providers and insurance companies, due to ACA. Another area of impact is the emergence of a new provider sector, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO's), who are on the front lines of creating efficient processes for managing the care of patients coming into the system as a result of ACA.

    At The Washington Post, we are positioning our Hispanic language newspaper, El Tiempo Latino, as a health and wellness platform to educate our readers on what these changes mean to them. We will do this through print and digital content creation, seminars and other outreach means. ACA represents a huge opportunity to educate both providers and consumers. Great article! I will be sharing your comments.

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