Hispanic Health Care

23 Jun 2005|spalacios

In my two previous posts, we’ve reviewed the census data, and investigated the economic potential of the Hispanic market. We’ve examined changes in regulatory law and government agencies that serve Hispanics. We feel we’ve established that the Hispanic market represents an undeniable opportunity for US businesses, particularly those in the health care industry, but if you need more evidence of this, we recommend reviewing the extensive sources posted by Juan Guillermo on his Hispanic Trending blog.

For those of you ready to take action, let’s look at a cross section of health care companies who recognize the opportunity Hispanics represent:

The competitive set is heating up. It’s only a matter of time before the window of opportunity will close:

In April of this year Blue Cross of California started to accept Matricula Consular IDs for the purchase of health care insurance.

Aetna already places advertising in Spanish-language magazines. They have Spanish-speaking nurses on 24-7 information lines. And they have Spanish-language print and video materials.

PacificCare has a Spanish-language website . They participate in scholarship programs for Hispanics and are in the process of translating marketing and informational brochures for Hispanic policyholders.

Access Salud is a California-based company that provides insurance and health care services to the Hispanic market. In partnership with Meridian Health Care management and a major Mexico City provider, they now offer cross-border coverage so that Mexican workers can buy health coverage not only for themselves in this country, but also for their families in Mexico. For uninsured Hispanics, Access Salud has launched Club de Salud , a medical savings membership program that provides significant discounts, bilingual telephone assistance, and other health care services.

One of the best examples comes from Pfizer, which leads the market in size and revenue as well as in addressing and understanding U.S. Hispanics. Their Sana La Rana program is a three-year project that includes community outreach, health screening, Spanish-language communications, a dedicated website, and more. The name itself is savvy: “sana la rana” is an idiomatic expression Hispanic mothers use with their children when they’re sick or hurt — the verbal equivalent of kissing an injury to make it better. It has strong emotional power.

Is it working? Pfizer has published some numbers that suggest they’re getting tremendous awareness. But it’s still too early to know whether they’ve realized a return on their investment. Then again, they may be looking for long-term ROI rather than next-quarter results.

There are three reasons you might want to follow the lead these companies are setting:

First, there’s the good citizen argument. Having sick people come to you only when they are in crisis is a costly endeavor. Having sick people fail to finish a medication regimen subjects the rest of the population to communicable disease. Having sick people come to work untreated wreaks all kinds of personal and economic havoc.

Second, there’s the risk of ceding knowledge, understanding, networks, connections, and innovative practices to those who decide to make the investment. In other words, if you don’t move, you’ll miss the boat.

Finally, there’s the profit motive. If you treat these people well and earn their respect, they and their children will remain loyal to your brand. Hispanics have a proven tendency to be more brand-loyal than mainstream customers — and that’s definitely a sweet spot.

We’ve addressed the all-important question, “why invest?” The next step is to figure out what your company can do to capture the hearts and minds of this market. It’s going to take more than just translating your collateral into Spanish, because Hispanics have their own culture in health care, as in everything else.

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