With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans gained access to the health care system. It allowed individuals and families, particularly in communities of color, to receive quality care without worrying that they could be denied coverage. The lack of health care coverage within communities of color was concerning. Most notably, and with the lowest rate of health care coverage, 33 percent of Hispanic people in the United States did not have access to affordable health care.
“When the ACA was passed, we knew that representation, understanding, and an ability to connect with other cultures and experiences were going to be key to our success in sharing information on coverage options,” Koleen Cavanagh, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Independence Blue Cross (Independence), says. “We didn’t want anyone to lack health care coverage because they were unaware of the opportunities available to them.”
Established partnerships within its Supplier Diversity Program allowed Independence to act quickly to engage with diverse audiences to meet the demand for affordable health care coverage.
“Our commitment to supplier diversity has been fundamental to our ability to reach those who have been traditionally underserved,” Cavanaugh says. “From the start, the Mendoza Group were a vital part of outreach efforts within Hispanic communities in the Philadelphia area.”
Connecting the Conversation
“Many organizations experience gaps when it comes to communicating with Hispanic audiences, which is why I set out to create bridges that could reach multicultural communities,” says Mia Mendoza, founder and CEO of the Mendoza Group in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. “Independence knows how important diversity is, and that includes the ways it connects with potential customers. Together, we were able to create strategies that increased access to care for individuals and families who otherwise may not have known about the health care coverage Independence offers.”
Independence and the Mendoza group developed a creative action plan that reflected the interests and culture of the Hispanic community. Then, they set out into neighborhoods across the five-county region to meet with individuals and families where the need for health care coverage was greatest.
“We sent Spanish-speaking ambassadors into communities, churches, supermarkets, and bodegas to talk with people about the need for quality health care coverage,” notes Mendoza. “The Independence Express mobile education and retail truck also hit the road along with the outreach team. This ensured we weren’t just reaching people, but also empowering them with information.”
In 2021 alone, the Mendoza Group distributed 10,000 door hangers highlighting affordable health care coverage options to neighborhoods with a high uninsured rate. In addition to connecting directly within communities, Independence did outreach through sponsorships, information events with leading Hispanic media, and professional networking events.
“Our strategy to engage with Hispanic communities in the Greater Philadelphia region ran deep, and it incorporated cultural elements that were important to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of their experience. We made it clear that we were there to represent them. It was ― and still is ― important that we take every step we can to connect with as many people as possible,” Mendoza shares.
Partnership Evolution Creates Access, Awareness, and Engagement
“Eventually, we got to the point where our brand ambassadors went beyond translating for customers ― they became fully licensed in selling insurance,” shared Mendoza. “This increased their ability to improve the lives of an incredible amount of people, while enhancing Independence’s ability to reach Hispanic audiences and its overall diversity initiatives.”
In 2023, the Mendoza Group is again playing a key role in ensuring that residents have the health insurance coverage they need by meeting people where they are. An inspired marketing idea from Mendoza and her team involving coffee cups is bringing critical enrollment information to the thousands of Pennsylvania Medicaid recipients who are losing health care coverage due to the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Mia and her team have been so creative throughout our outreach efforts. Working with them has been a tremendous opportunity. Together, we’ve created vibrant experiences and opened doors to individuals and families who might not have otherwise known about the health care coverage opportunities that Independence offers,” Cavanaugh shares.
With an emphasis on representation, Independence’s Supplier Diversity Program has played a significant part in increased awareness and engagement across communities.
“Independence’s Supplier Diversity Program provides an invaluable opportunity for us to meet and collaborate with outstanding diverse businesses, which in turn allows us to better serve our members and communities. And in this case, the result of the partnership between Independence and the Mendoza Group helped increase access to affordable care in the Philadelphia region. This connection goes beyond traditional provider-client interaction ― and that’s something we’re proud of,” Cavanaugh notes.