More than 10 million Hispanics are eligible to gain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, representing unparalleled opportunity for businesses aiming to succeed in the emerging health economy focused on delivering consumer-centered care, according to a new report from PwC’s Health Research Institute.

The report highlights the opportunity and challenges that traditional healthcare organizations ­ clinicians, health systems, insurance companies, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, as well as new market entrants,­ face when addressing the Hispanic market.

“Hispanics have tremendous consumer purchasing power, but our research shows that they have also been more likely than other consumers to delay healthcare, and don’t have great trust in the U.S. health system,” said Frank Lemmon, principal, PwC US health industries. “As the health industry shifts in how and where care is delivered,­ in many cases closer to home, these long-standing behaviors and attitudes are ripe for change. Hispanics have increased buying power and represent a sizeable opportunity for both traditional and non-traditional healthcare companies,” he said.

Respecting the cultural and consumer preferences that differentiate Hispanic consumers will be critical for companies looking to build trust and market share among the Hispanic population.  Six key consumer insights revealed in the study include:

  1. On average, cost is most important to Hispanics when it comes to care, while quality is most important for non-Hispanics. 46% Hispanics vs. 35% non-Hispanics consider cost most important; 53% non-Hispanics vs. 42% Hispanics consider quality most important;
  2. Hispanics are less likely than other consumers to use a doctor as primary caregiver when facing a non-emergency condition (66% vs. 76%), and they are more open to using community health clinics in their neighborhood, non-traditional settings such as 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, and Hispanics are more likely to be influenced by the information when making decisions about care and insurance plans;
  4. Hispanics are less likely to share personal information than other consumers. Regardless of benefits they might receive, 33% of Hispanics said that they are not willing to share personal information compared to 26% of other consumers;
  5. Hispanics are more likely than other consumers to live in multi-generational households and may be helping manage others’ health conditions quite possibly individuals who lack familiarity with the U.S. health system; and
  6. Regardless of income, education and insurance status, some Hispanics would rather cross borders to seek care, and travel to their birth countries to buy lower-cost medications for the entire family.

Based on these insights, HRI suggests that healthcare companies should consider embedding four key elements in their strategies to reach the Hispanic segment:

  1. Recognize that non-traditional health businesses, or new entrants, might have an advantage. Perhaps more than any other consumer group, Hispanics are cost conscious, mobile savvy and do not necessarily seek healthcare within the traditional $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system;
  2. Realize that all healthcare companies looking to reach the Hispanic market will have to work harder to earn their trust. Partnerships with trusted community-based organizations will be essential to extending companies’ future success with a group that is less likely to share personal information;
  3. Focus on online and mobile platforms. The Hispanic community socializes, communicates, researches and purchases in cyberspace and healthcare companies should consider tapping into existing social and mobile platforms that are popular with Hispanics; and
  4. Respect the traditional and generational nuances of the Hispanic market. Hispanics are not a uniform group. Businesses should develop strategies for different Hispanic ethnicities and generations, and for addressing ingrained habits and cultural preferences.

Ad-ology Research has discovered that nearly half of English-speaking Hispanics are  single/divorced, which is much higher than average, and 60% of these consumers are between the ages of 18-34.  Hispanic consumers are also very likely to support companies who sponsor a favorite sports teams or athlete.  When asked which local news source (including their website, mobile app and social media) is the most beneficial for health and medical information, 12.3% of English-speaking Hispanics said TV, followed by 8.5% who said magazines, and 6.8% who said emailed news/offers.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.