I caught a webinar last week, hosted by Enroll America, that explored challenges relating to enrolling “communities of color” into the new Affordable Care Act programs. Given that minority communities are the largest group that will be eligible for benefits under healthcare reform, the race is on to attract these potential eligible enrollees.
I fully expected to hear a great deal about using social media as an enrollment tool – having heard encouraging stats recently at SXSW. And where several speakers mentioned the high usage of smartphones among minority populations, I was astounded to hear that over 80% of persons of color still prefer in-person access to enrollment and eligibility information.
A Maryland organization shared an example of how trust plays a critical role in initial outreach efforts. To promote awareness of new healthcare programs, they hired nurses from a community church to do neighborhood outreach in Baltimore and had great success. Why? Because people recognized these workers as fellow parishioners, neighbors and clinicians first and outreach workers second. Credibility and trust were instantly established.
We aren’t that lucky.
We tend to push marketing and enrollment information, whether through traditional or social media channels, and few people are actually listening because we failed to establish trust first. Worse; our messages are rarely tailored. Instead we tend think that what works in one place will work in another. You know these marketing campaigns. No need to describe them here. I’ll save Hall of Shame for future blog posts.
Not surprisingly, low minority enrollment statistics would suggest that our typical one size fits all approach actually fits very few – a point Carla Seporta from California’s Greenlining Institute made when she spoke of racial equity (achieving favorable outcomes across racial and ethnic groups, regardless of resources allocated). To achieve it, we will likely have to spend more money and effort in some communities compared to others.
That’s a radical idea for many of us who are used to establishing marketing budgets based on traditional approaches such as per member per month (PMPM) estimates. Need more ammunition to fight your marketing and outreach battles? Check out Greenling’s excellent white paper on racial equity here.