Emerging Populations Represent an Untapped Opportunity for Healthcare Insurers

Health insurers have a once in a generation opportunity to expand their membership base, but may suffer “a winner’s curse” if they do not understand the new populations they are covering. Emerging America population groups such as Hispanic Americans are accounting for a larger portion of the covered population (whether through private or government insurers). Yet most payers know little of the specific and unique healthcare needs, let alone the buyer values, of these emerging populations. To simply put up a few webpages and brochures in Spanish may show some level of cultural awareness, but it is far from cultural competency.

Lately some insures have announced large increases in their state health insurance exchange rates tied to higher utilization and membership churn than expected. Some of these costs can be mitigated by better understanding emerging populations’ attitudes towards the healthcare system, and working with them and their communities to build an experience that works for all concerned to improve outcomes and control costs.

The long-term benefits of payers getting to know Emerging America populations are huge.  Demographically these are growing populations (e.g. by 2020 one in five Americans will be of Hispanic descent), often have larger immediate and extended families, and exhibit greater brand loyalty. Other industries have recognized this opportunity and have been capitalizing on it – the healthcare industry is woefully behind. Fast moving payers have a great opportunity to win the loyalty of these populations yet few have tried.

Organizations that do make the effort to win the Hispanic American healthcare consumer will not only find long-term value with this population, but also the added benefit of building capabilities and an organizational mindset geared towards capturing other emerging populations (e.g. Asian Americans) and other consumer groups. Those who don’t take this approach will quickly find they are holding an increasingly demographically unfavorable book of business and facing an uphill struggle to win those they neglected.

North Highland is keenly focused on the topic of Hispanic health for both providers and payors. Click here for more on our perspective and recent partnership with Modern Healthcare Custom Media, including research and roundtable discussion with healthcare industry leaders, on this increasingly relevant topic.

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  1. Samir Jaluria
    Nov 30, 2015 - 08:55 PM

    George – Excellent and well-written article. Spot on for sure. It is indeed a rare opportunity for health insurance companies to keep up with America’s changing demographics – as opposed to playing catch-up.