With less than 4 four weeks left, President Obama, in a Latino Town Hall address, led an “all-out” campaign targeted to Hispanics and addressing their specific issues and barriers that have kept them from enrolling in ACA. The communications push brought together celebrities, national & local leaders, community groups, and “real” people, on the three largest Spanish-language media outlets, Univision, Telemundo and impreMedia, live webcast and social media. The question remains whether this late campaign adjustment comes with enough time to incite Hispanics to action.
Unlike the initial ACA campaigns, which were merely “translations” of English information, this “Last Call” communications campaign was micro-targeted to address the needs, nuances and barriers for Hispanics, which have led to their low enrollment numbers. Equally important, this campaign integrates the multiple communication channels needed to reach out strongly to familial and social Hispanics at the various levels at which they stay hyper-connected, from the grassroots face-to-face events (held by churches/community centers) to the social media (#TuSaludYObama & #Asegurate). Surprisingly, even President Obama suggested use of social media to bring communities together to enroll, signaling a new awareness of the need for media influencers and online-social to work hand-in-hand with experiential-grassroots marketing.
The Last Call campaign messaging focused on the various issues that have specifically been barriers to Hispanic enrollment:
- Build Trust – With NCLR, a top Hispanic organization, dubbing Obama “Deporter in Chief” due to the over 2 million deportations conducted during his term, many Hispanics with mixed immigration status families are reluctant to trust enrolling in a system which may access their personal information to break up their families. The President reassured the listeners that there is no exchange of information between the ACA and the INS, however follow-up questions continued to show uneasiness and significant lack of personal trust.
- Smooth Qualification –The Spanish website’s initial launch occurred several months after the start of ACA enrollment, resulting in long-lasting, negative word-of-mouth and limited in-language accessibility. With both English and Spanish websites and call centers now fixed and functioning without delays, Hispanics were encouraged to try to sign up again, and promised a smoother experience.
- Affordability –For many Hispanics, whose personal experience with insurance, deductibles, copays and out of pocket costs is limited, the ACA plans appear to be economically out of reach. A Univision study has shown that most Hispanics are willing to pay less than $100 per month, but most initial premiums were significantly higher than that with deductibles in the $5-15K range. Yet, the President encouraged Latinos to try to requalify again, particularly in person, through navigators and community health centers who can help educate them on healthcare, and on the web. This call for retrial is particularly important to Hispanics in lower Federal Poverty Levels between 139-175 who have had access to some care through community health clinics, are less familiar with insurance concept, and may in fact qualify for plans from $2-84 per month with deductibles from $0-$5K.
- Benefits & Rewards – Many Hispanics, being younger and healthier, forget the catastrophic cost that an accident or unexpected illness can place on their lives and families. The President encouraged them to remember the benefits of having health insurance, particularly being able to protect their families from a catastrophic occurrence or accident which could bankrupt them and cause them to lose their homes, and savings. Hispanics were encouraged to not procrastinate, and enroll today.
Post Obama address reaction on social media was mixed, but still showed concerns about affordability, and need for more healthcare literacy education. Following the address, US News & World Report released a survey of Hispanics showing 8 in 10 still had not visited the site and almost half are unaware of the upcoming deadline. Of those surveyed, 3 top issues still remain: 1) privacy 2) affordability and 3) lack of healthcare information/literacy to make a decision. The lack of knowledge is why many Hispanics surveyed say they still prefer in-person sign-up format. The survey also revealed some speculation that Obama will extend the deadline for enrollment by one month due to early technical problems, Spanish website and need for more face-to-face enrollment, despite Obama’s stating that there is still plenty of time before March 31, so to enroll now.
Through the “Last Call” program, we can finally see an integrated coordinated, paid-earned multi-channel campaign, from celebrities, face-to-face to social media, directly targeting Hispanic unique issues and barriers. With the initial enrollment period ending on March 31, there is a question of whether the government has allowed enough time to adjust the ACA pitch. Rebuilding trust, expanding healthcare literacy, and changing value perceptions to impact enrollment behavior takes time. In this highly social community who rely on personal recommendations and strong word-of-mouth, some surveyed are saying they will wait to hear about others’ first-hand, personal experiences before enrolling.
Still this campaign should be a great lesson and fresh starting point for Round 2 of the government led acquisition campaign as well as for how Insurers and providers should be approaching the vast growth opportunity.
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