For those in the healthcare industry, the anticipation of what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring has been much like the anticipation of unwrapping presents at Christmas. The open enrollment period began, but we won’t know how many people have signed up until November. It’s like waking up Christmas morning and having to wait until your grandparents arrive to actually tear open the presents under the tree.
In a July article, I highlighted the importance of targeted messaging and outreach to the Hispanic community. I pointed to recent studies, including a Kaiser Family Foundation tracker that showed that the lack of information and understanding are the main deterrents halting all potential enrollees in the ACA marketplace. That study revealed that 65% of Hispanics do not have enough information about how the ACA will impact their lives.
Since then, we partnered with Phoenix Marketing International to field and analyze the results of a proprietary study conducted among a currently uninsured and ACA eligible population (n=1202). Our study corroborated the Kaiser Family Foundation findings, with 52% of Hispanics and 40% of non-Hispanics citing a lack of information as a major obstacle to enrollment.
But we wanted to dive deeper. We wanted to predict how many people will sign up, and the demands they will place on the healthcare system.
The findings might surprise you. We’ve laid them out in quiz form to test your understanding:
Q: True or False: Hispanics report a greater likelihood of purchasing insurance via the Marketplace?
A:TRUE: Forty-six percent of Hispanics who only speak Spanish are very likely to buy health insurance versus 27% of Non-Hispanics. It is clear that family will play a fundamental role in insurance and service decisions as the study also shows that Hispanic respondents are more likely to worry about their family’s health (72% vs. 45% of non-Hispanics).
Q: What percentage of Hispanics “strongly agreed” the ACA will provide them with more healthcare choices?
ANSWER 2: Again, this shows that Hispanic intent to enroll is largely driven by a more positive opinion of the ACA and what it can do for their families. Fifty-three percent of uninsured Hispanics surveyed “strongly agreed” that the ACA would provide them with more healthcare choices. This is in contrast to 27% of non-Hispanics. Hispanics are also almost twice as likely as non-Hispanics to believe that the ACA will make health insurance more affordable for themselves and their families (47% of Hispanics vs. 24% of non-Hispanics), and are significantly more likely than non-Hispanics to believe that the overall quality of healthcare will improve with the ACA (44% of Hispanics vs. 21% of non-Hispanics).
Q:Once enrolled, how often do the majority of Hispanics anticipate seeking healthcare services for themselves?
ANSWER 3: For Healthcare providers, the importance of focusing on the Hispanic patient is critical as they are likely to drive the demand for services. Over two-thirds of Hispanics (61% self, 61% spouse; 69% children) expect to see a doctor at least twice per year. The numbers for non-Hispanics were 56% for themselves, 53% for their spouse and 56% for their children.
Q: Once enrolled, what service did Hispanics say they would be most likely to use?
ANSWER 1: The study showed that Hispanics, especially Spanish dominant Hispanics, are less likely to use the ER than Non-Hispanics (14% of Hispanics vs. 16% of Non-Hispanics). Also, nearly 70% of Hispanics will likely use traditional doctors for themselves and their children once enrolled. The desire to be seen by the traditional doctor could explain why a higher percentage of Hispanics (47%) report they are very likely to change their current healthcare provider once enrolled, compared to Non-Hispanics (28%).
Q. The Affordable Care Act will drive growth opportunity for many healthcare stakeholders. For pharmaceutical marketers specifically, the potential Hispanic growth in annual prescriptions alone is estimated at:
ANSWER 4: When Hispanics become newly insured, they will seek out ways to keep themselves and their families healthy. Our research shows thatHispanics are twice as likely as non-Hispanics to expect that the ACA will make prescription medications more affordable (43% of Hispanics vs. 21% of non-Hispanics), and, once enrolled, nearly 40% plan to use them more often. Just 27% of non-Hispanics said the same thing.
What this all means as we eagerly await Uncle Sam to arrive with official enrollment numbers (hopefully before Christmas) is that we need to prepare for the already important Hispanic segment to have an even greater role in the growth of U.S. healthcare. This is a time of great change. Those healthcare marketers that change with the times, will see a bright future ahead.
Click here for more information on the research findings.