Covered California Eyes Latinos for Upcoming Enrollment Period – NPR, The California Report

October 27, 2017. KQED News by April Dembosky.- Starting next week, Americans will again be able to shop for health plans under the Affordable Care Act. But a lot of people don’t know that, because the Trump administration slashed the program’s marketing budget. In California, our state-run the marketplace plans to pick up the slack and will focus in particular on wooing Latino consumers. But, it’s going to be a hard sell. Carlos Santiago is president and chief strategist at Santiago Solutions Group, a research consulting firm. He fears that message could be too simple. “To convince someone that was uninsured to get it for the first time, obviously that message is not going to work, especially not this year,” he says. Plus, Santiago continues, the belief that illness won’t happen to you is entrenched in Latino culture.

October 27, 2017. KQED News by April Dembosky.-

Starting next week, Americans will again be able to shop for health plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Open enrollment in most states runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. But a lot of people don’t know that because the Trump administration slashed the marketing budget for Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. So states, municipalities, community groups, insurers and others are strengthening their outreach efforts.

In California, the state’s marketplace plans to aggressively advertise and will focus on Latino consumers. And that will be difficult this year, says Christopher Graves, president and founder of the Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science.

He says the way human brains are wired, it just doesn’t make sense to us to buy something now that we may not need for years. “Health insurance has to be the toughest thing on earth to sell,” he says, “Especially if you’re trying to sell it to somebody who’s young, healthy, and has not had some catastrophe, health-wise.” So California plans to invest $111 million to counteract the negative press. And it will spend 30 percent of its media buy on Spanish language ads.

California is on the defensive, says Lizelda Lopez, deputy director of communications at Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace. “Even if they’re hearing, ‘The Affordable Care Act is going away,’ we’re saying, ‘No, no, not yet, not yet.’ ”

Carlos Santiago is president and chief strategist at Santiago Solutions Group, a research consulting firm. He fears that message could be too simple.

“To convince someone that was uninsured to get it for the first time, obviously that message is not going to work, especially not this year,” he says. Plus, Santiago continues, the belief that illness won’t happen to you is entrenched in Latino culture.

“Latinos are extremely, extremely positive and overly optimistic,” he explains. That is one reason, he says, they are more likely to be uninsured than other groups.

The mindset is: ” ‘We don’t need to worry so much about today. Things will be OK.’ And obviously when it comes to insurance, that’s not exactly what it’s all about,” Santiago says.

Covered California does have some more dramatic ads. In one, a young Latina woman shows pictures from her wedding day and talks about suddenly finding out she needed a heart transplant. She says that without her health plan from Covered California, the surgery would have cost $1.5 million.

Santiago says hearing the personal story of someone whom Latinas can relate to is good. But he and Graves agree that if the message is too scary, it could backfire.

Also read: With Federal Funds Cut, Others Must Lead Health Insurance Sign-Up Efforts

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