The Race is on to Reach Illinois’ 1 Million+ Uninsured Ethnic Population

May 28, 13 The Race is on to Reach Illinois’ 1 Million+ Uninsured Ethnic Population

By: Cassandra Bremer, Content Manager and Developer

In a few short months, the preliminary stages of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation will begin, forcing the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) and other healthcare providers to move quickly and provide coverage solutions for the state’s one million plus uninsured residents. As of April 30, the state received 165 health insurance plans to review for inclusion in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, the online exchange where individuals and small businesses can buy coverage. Once the review is complete, the DOI will recommend whether or not the plan should be certified as a Qualified Health Plan to federal Health and Human Services who will make the final determination by August 31. Open Enrollment for both state and federal exchanges will begin on October 1 to meet the January 1, 2014 deadline for mandatory health insurance coverage as specified under the ACA (aka ObamaCare).  In order to meet this aggressive timeframe, the state and health insurance companies must address various, unique cultural and linguistic needs to reduce barriers in reaching more than half of the state’s uninsured population.

Currently, over 13% (1,647,527) of Illinois residents are uninsured with more than half residing in Cook County, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts. Minorities are more likely to be uninsured (29% of Hispanics, 20% of African Americans) when compared to Non-Hispanic Whites (15%), with Latinos having the highest uninsured rate among all racial/ethnic groups in the country. To add, Hispanics under age 26 make up 47% of the national population making this niche consumer group an attractive target for health insurance providers.

According to the Illinois Health Matters report, barriers in reaching the total uninsured population include limited English proficiencies, low literacy levels as well as cultural beliefs and practices that inhibit or cause discomfort in navigating Western medical systems and bureaucracies. Partnerships with trusted community programs, multicultural communication agencies and non-profit organizations such as the Immigrant Family Resource Program will be key in achieving a “Culture of Coverage” in Illinois.

“Illinois’ unique market complexities create an opportunity for our state to stand out as a leader in facilitating and fostering an efficient health insurance exchange,” said George. L San Jose, president and chief creative officer of The San Jose Group. “If we educate and authentically connect with all consumers, Illinois will accomplish exactly what the Affordable Care Act set out to do- provide easy access to healthcare for all residents.”

While achievable, setting out to effectively communicate the importance of healthcare coverage for all Illinoisans is no easy task. Health insurance providers -both state based and private- targeting Illinois’ diverse audiences must work to educate the uninsured about a [potentially] unfamiliar product category, reduce fears and demonstrate the long term benefits of healthcare coverage.

“We’ve got a big job to do making sure that people across Illinois are aware of the affordable and high-quality health care options that will soon be available,” Governor Pat Quinn said in a statement to the AP. “That’s why we are partnering with trusted organizations that have proven records of success and roots in communities across the state to ensure no one is left out.”

According to eHealth, the operator of the online health plan vendor eHealth Insurance, the average monthly premium paid by an individual buying coverage on their own is $190. With only seven months left, healthcare providers have a limited window of opportunity to strategize and reach this growing and profitable consumer segment in the state.

“The Affordable Care Act has created a $1.8 billion+ opportunity for healthcare providers seeking business from Illinois’ uninsured ethnic population,” added San Jose. “It is time to engage these audiences and provide information about navigating the insurance exchanges through culturally relevant, in-language communication to ensure a healthier Illinois that benefits us all.”

Leave a Comment