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Hispanic Consumers: A Big Opportunity for Healthcare Providers

hispanic family healthcare consumersHispanic healthcare consumers represent a significant opportunity for healthcare providers and businesses seeking a largely untapped market. Under the Affordable Care Act, over 10 million Hispanics are now eligible for health insurance, which opens the door to many possibilities in meeting the needs of a population with purchasing power.

PwC’s Health Research Institute recently released its new report, “Hispanics: A growing force in the New Health Economy,” which outlines this opportunity — and challenges — for healthcare businesses addressing the Hispanic market.

Key Hispanic Healthcare Consumer Insights

As Michael Johnson summarizes in his article, “Report:  Hispanic demographic represents significant opportunity for health-and-wellness companies,” the PwC report lists six key consumer insights that healthcare companies need to consider regarding the Hispanic market:

  1. On average, cost is most important to Hispanics when it comes to care, while quality is most important for non-Hispanics.
  2. Hispanics are less likely than other consumers to use a doctor as primary caregiver when facing a non-emergency condition, and they are more open to using community health clinics, retail clinics, and alternative caregivers such as pharmacists.
  3. More Hispanics than non-Hispanics use social media, mobile apps and Internet searches to find information about doctors and insurance companies.
  4. Hispanics are less likely to share personal information than other consumers.
  5. Hispanics are more likely than other consumers to live in multi-generational households and may be helping manage other household members’ healthcare
  6. Regardless of income, education and insurance status, some Hispanics would rather cross borders for care and lower-cost medications for the entire family.

c2b solutions also explored the health & wellness attitudes and behaviors of the Hispanic market in its 2013 c2b Consumer Diagnostic. Of the 4,184 respondents in this national study, 454 self-identified as Hispanic/Latino (11%). This percentage is lower than that of the U.S. Census, which lists Hispanics as 16.7% of the U.S. population.   

Cost versus Choice

Interestingly, when asked to identify which was more important regarding health insurance coverage:

a) Having plenty of options and choices of doctors, specialists, and hospitals, even if such a policy costs more; or

b) Having fewer options of doctors, specialists, and hospitals, but at a lower cost for coverage

Hispanic respondents were directionally more likely (not significant at 95% confidence) than non-Hispanic whites to rate choice as more important:

Which is more important in a health insurance plan/company

Hispanic/Latino

White (non-Hispanic)

a) Choice

62%

59%

b) Cost

38%

41%

It should be noted that “care” in the PwC report is not the same as health insurance attributes, specifically.  Moreover, c2b solutions used Ipsos’ national online consumer panel, which may bias respondents to those with access to computers and the Internet.  PwC conducted a nationwide survey of 500 Hispanics and 500 Non-Hispanics ranging in age from 18-65, and conducted two focus groups, each, among Hispanics and non-Hispanics ages 25-59.  

That said, Hispanics’ price sensitivity became very evident as a Van Westendorp pricing analysis of health insurance premiums was included in the c2b Consumer Diagnostic. Hispanic respondents were statistically more likely than non-Hispanic whites to place a lower limit on what they perceived to be expensive health insurance:

Average monthly health insurance premium where you consider the product to be:

Hispanic/Latino

White (non-Hispanic)

Getting expensive

$181.99

$210.12*

So expensive you would not buy

$254.08

$313.03*

* Statistical difference at 95% confidence

Thus, either the notion of value differs between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, or expectations among Hispanics are higher with regard to the level of services provided at these price points.

Sources of Care

Separately, and consistent with PwC’s findings, the c2b Consumer Diagnostic did find that Hispanic consumers were among the most likely to visit a retail clinic, public clinic, or an urgent care facility.  However, when asked about seeing a nurse or pharmacist instead of a doctor for non-life threatening issues, Hispanic respondents were less likely to be receptive than non-Hispanic whites to see a nurse (though both groups were more open to a nurse than a pharmacist):

I would be willing to be treated by a nurse for non-life threatening issues if a doctor was not available:

Hispanic/Latino

White (non-Hispanic)

Strongly Agree/Agree

67%

75%*

Neither Agree nor Disagree

24%*

18%

Disagree/Strongly Disagree

9%*

6%

I would be willing to be treated by a pharmacist for non-life threatening issues if a doctor was not available:

Hispanic/Latino

White (non-Hispanic)

Strongly Agree/Agree

44%

44%

Neither Agree nor Disagree

34%

30%

Disagree/Strongly Disagree

21%

25%

* Statistical difference at 95% confidence

Implications

Recognizing these differences is key to meeting the needs of, and marketing effectively to, Hispanic healthcare consumers. Beyond mere pricing considerations is a need to understand and respect cultural influences on Hispanic consumer healthcare attitudes and behaviors. 

It is important to acknowledge that “Hispanic” is a catch-all term for a rich and varied population made up of different subcultures — Mexican, Cuban, Puerto-Rican, among many others — with nuances and norms that play into decision making. While this is beyond the scope of this article, it will be addressed in a future posting.

In the meantime, as you develop your healthcare marketing and service strategies, do not assume a “one size fits all” approach will work across populations. An important and powerful population of Hispanic healthcare consumers merits attention.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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