The Most Effective Messaging to Reach Latinos on Enrollment

By Guest Blogger

This post was written by Gabriel R Sanchez, Director of Research for Latino Decisions, Associate Professor of Political Science and Interim Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Sanchez can be reach at

Latinos are arguably the most critical population to the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for two dominant reasons. First, Latinos are the least likely to be currently insured, which makes them a group who has a lot to gain from a successful ACA implementation effort. Second, they are also significantly younger than non-Latinos. Given the need to enroll a large young and presumably healthy population to decrease costs for others, the youthfulness of Latinos is a major asset to the ACA effort.

As a scholar who focuses on Latino political and policy attitudes, many reporters, elected officials, community leaders, and members of the general public have asked me how they should communicate to other Latinos about the ACA. Fortunately, I am able to point to really important work that is being done in Colorado to directly address this question.

Adelante con la Salud: Latino Healthcare Engagement Project (Adelante), based in Colorado, conducts Latino specific outreach. Latinos, like most communities, respond more positively to messaging that is geared with them in mind. Adelante’s work has been sensitive to this by analyzing messages and messengers that are appropriate for not just Latinos, but Latinos specifically in Colorado. This is key, as the diversity of the Latino population results in important differences in these areas across different states and regions of the country.

Adelante commissioned a survey from Latino Decisions in April 2013 that provided insight on appropriate terminology, messaging, messengers, and information platforms to maximize the impact of their outreach programs.

The interventions Adelante employed in Colorado incorporated the information gleaned from the April study, and proved successful at increasing knowledge about the ACA among the targeted population.

A new poll conducted in October (highlighted below) identified the impact the evidence-based outreach efforts had on Latino knowledge of the ACA. Although more in-depth discussion of the findings from Adelante and Latino Decision’s work in Colorado is available elsewhere, I am providing some brief bullets below to highlight the value of this work:

  • The October survey revealed that 77% of Latinos in Colorado had heard an announcement or advertisement about ACA through radio, television, online news, or social media between April and October. An additional 25% had heard about the ACA at a community center, health clinic, school or church over the same period.
  • As reflected in the table below, the share of Latino adults who know that adult children can remain on their parent’s insurance plan increased by thirteen points (15% in April, 28% in October). Awareness of the state health insurance marketplace tripled from 6% to 18% during this short period of time. It is also notable that the share of respondents who knew that pre-existing conditions no longer exclude people from coverage doubled (14% in April, now up to 31%).
  • In addition to the actual content of the new health care law, the October survey also asked respondents about their exposure to information specific to the health insurance marketplace that opened just before the survey went into the field. Nearly half, 45%, had heard or read either a “great deal” or “some” about the health insurance marketplace in Colorado.


The research design commissioned by Adelante and administered by Latino Decisions can serve as a model for others working to implement the ACA effectively across diverse populations.

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