MULTICULTURAL IMPACT OF THE 2010 PATIENT AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: Health Benefit Exchanges will change health-related marketing

By Martha C. Rivera, Director of Insights & Planning

As SJG discussed in our previous newsletter on the topic of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, after its full implementation in 2014, an estimated 43% of the total insured individuals in the U.S. will be from the multicultural population.  

A portion of the Act includes state specific online marketplaces, or Health Benefit Exchanges, that will impact how health-related marketers reach their audiences.  The online Exchanges are the only means that the newly eligible individuals can use to purchase insurance under the Act.  The establishment of the online platform for purchasing insurance from the Exchanges is representative of the importance of the digital landscape within the country’s healthcare system.   

While roughly 83% of Americans who are online seek out health-related information regularly, the Act marks the first time that individuals will actually have the ability to purchase health insurance online.  Additionally, the Exchanges must include an 800 number and live navigators to help shoppers choose their insurance plans.    

Of the 33 million Americans who will be newly insured under the Act, 43% will be of multicultural segments, forcing ethnicity and language to be crucial components in the development of the online marketplaces and its resources.  Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the percentage of people in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home is estimated at 20%.  In addition, of the Spanish-dominant Hispanics in the U.S., 41% are not active online.  This reality that many individuals whose language is one other than English indicates that there will be a great need to educate and guide these individuals to effectively navigate and use the online marketplace.  One foreseeable consequence of the Act is that the Exchanges will most likely develop in-language versions and resources for the online users, as well as the live navigators and representatives at the 800 number. 

The Act presents a tremendous opportunity for pharma companies.  An opportunity to lead in share of the market by helping the Exchanges in educating the multicultural population in how to use the tool, while simultaneously marketing their products and drugs to them for purchase once they are insured.  Pharma companies can potentially participate in the development of in-language, culturally relevant marketing and communication materials while gaining share within the segment.   Additionally, pharma companies will have more than 14 million new Spanish-dominant Hispanics to market to online once the Act is fully established.  

After 2014, approximately one in four insured people in the U.S. will come from a multicultural background.  With the reality of the Act and the influx of multicultural consumers, the future is uncertain for health insurance and pharma companies without multicultural budgets and an established culturally relevant presence within segment.  Pharma companies will see that targeting these consumers will no longer be an option but a necessity as multicultural consumers will be loyal in the long run to the companies/brands that helped them navigate through the process of using the Exchanges.

For questions pertaining to this subject please contact Martha Rivera at (312)565-7000 or For more information about the San Jose Group please visit


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