3 Ways to Improve Obamacare Hispanic Marketing

Ideas for WellPoint and Blues competitors to capture market share among Latinos.

Non-Elderly Pop vs Uninsured Pop

Hispanics are critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a key source of incremental market share for insurers, since they are disproportionately more likely to be uninsured.

As language is one of the factors contributing to this disparity, the federal government launched CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov.

In addition, due to a rule proposed in June 2013, consumers can also buy their coverage directly on insurers sites after visiting the government-run marketplaces to see if their income qualifies them for subsidized coverage. Therefore, WellPoint and other Blues insurers have invested in marketing to Latinos by sponsoring Univision Salud’s health insurance hub “Centro de Seguros Médicos”.

However, that approach is not the only formula for success to capture Hispanic market share.  Below are 3 gaps that I identified in the current approach to marketing Obamacare to Latinos, which provide opportunities for WellPoint and Blues competitors to lure uninsured Hispanics:

  1. Make video content more prominent and easier to navigate. Since uninsured Latinos are more likely to have a high school degree or less[1], video can more effectively increase comprehension of the ACA and thus enrollment. CuidadodeSalud created 8 great YouTube videos  that are buried somewhere on their site and not available on their Facebook page either. Not surprisingly, Univision Salud offers superior video content, but the elements surrounding its site are too distracting especially for the user that wants to view the videos from their smartphones. A simple e-learning platform such as www.Grovo.com would be more effective for both.
  2. Partner with alternative financial services (AFS) providers.  Obamacare offers Hispanics face-to-face enrollment through Community Based Organizations (CBOs), some of which are creatively engaging Latinos in their neighborhoods. Given that 50% of Hispanic households used AFS such as check cashing and money transfers in the past year[2], insurers can benefit from creating distribution agreements to leverage the trusted teller base of AFS providers such as Western Union. In fact, Latinos who use AFS have a similar demographic and behavioral profile to that of the uninsured.
  3. Educate children of immigrants. It is common for those with limited English literacy to rely on more literate relatives, friends, neighbors and even children to serve as cultural, linguistic and informational mediators. A UCLA study[3] found that mediation activities performed by Korean and Mexican children went beyond oral interpretation to include activities such as filling out forms (84%), getting information (69%) and obtaining services for parents (56%). Although healthcare advertising regulations are very strict, and most likely do not address marketing to children, perhaps insurers can sponsor library and other school-related programs to teach children how to find relevant sources of information about the ACA and to critically examine those sources of information.

[1] Hispanics and Health Care in the United States: Access, Information and Knowledge – A Joint Pew Hispanic Center and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Research Report, 2007.
[2] 2011 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households.
[3] Immigrant Children Mediators (ICM): Bridging the Literacy Gap in Immigrant Communities – Clara M. Chu, UCLA Dept. of Library and Information Science, 1999.

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