Affordable Care Act

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People are getting help to understand the Affordable Care Act through a partnership. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. are reaching out to the Latino community to educate them about this legislation. Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. Chief Operating Officer David Adame and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Senior Vice President Deanna Salazar talk about this effort.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized for wasting consumers' time as they tried to use the website that allows them to buy government-mandated health insurance also known as Obamacare. Here in Arizona, people are getting help to understand the Affordable Care Act through a partnership Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Chicanos Por La Causa are reaching out to the Latino community to educate them about this legislation. Joining me to talk about this combined effort is David Adame, Chief Operating Officer for Chicanos Por La Causa and Deanna Salazar, Senior Vice-President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." A lot of publicity this week about what's gone wrong with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. You guys are doing something to make it easier to do it. So Deanna give me an overview of this partnership, and then David we're going to want to talk to you about some of the details.

Deanna Salazar: So glad you're focusing on the positive things that we need to do to facilitate implementation of the Healthcare Reform Bill. But one of the gaps that we noticed in this market in particular is that we have a large segment of the population that's not just uninsured but a lot of those uninsured are Hispanic. So we have over million people in Arizona that don't have health insurance. Half of those people are probably going to be eligible for a subsidy or financial assistance to help them pay for their health insurance. And what we didn't see was a lot of deep understanding that went into the market to help people understand what their opportunities were to purchase health insurance products in the new market and under the new law. so we were looking for ways to make sure that we get the word out to people that there are those opportunities not just to purchase so everybody knows, I think a lot of people know that one of the big things that came with the new law was that there is guaranteed issue. For individuals to go out and purchase products, they're not going to be turned away because of a health condition. So getting out the word that there's the opportunity to buy and financial assistance to help do was really important. One of the things we knew we didn't have was deep of an infiltration into the Hispanic market not just in Maricopa County but outside of Maricopa County in some of the rural areas. And as a carrier for Arizona we've been here for over 70 years. We serve the entire state. We don't want to ignore the rural areas of Arizona and just focus on Maricopa County. We're interested in every part of Arizona. We knew that a partnership with an organization like Chicanos Por La Causa would help us get out into those markets and reach the segments of the population that may have a deeper need for education about healthcare reform.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk about the partnership. Chicanos Por La Causa is a statewide entity known more for your social services activities and the education component of this makes a lot of sense. Let's talk first and then the business relationship that's coming about from this.

David Adame: Absolutely. Well, Chicanos Por La Causa does have pillars that we work in. We do work in education, health and human services, economic development and housing. We've experienced different national roll-outs, whether it's health care, home modifications, that was the problem a few years ago and we saw that our community wasn't getting the proper information; was led to our community being taken advantage of. A lot of fraud going out there, people making promises to deliver something that they really couldn't and charging our community about that.

José Cárdenas: I understand you got specific reports of people charging 300 dollars and guaranteeing people eligibility?

David Adame: They're taking advantage of all the bad news about the website having its difficulties so they're saying we can promise you something that they can't promise. So we've had those stories already, 300 bucks to pay for something that they could get for free. So that's why we did it and we knew that was going to happen. So we decided do this partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield; we've had a long time partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield and it was a tremendous opportunity for us to work together using our experience and position in the state, their long-time position in the state and to really help our folks find the right. Because there's a lot of complications in this. You have to apply for tax credit, you have to look at the information. So we wanted to make sure that our community had all that kind of backup information and like I said earlier, we're already having troubles with it, and the trouble with the website, there's different ways that you can actually sign up for this. You can sign up on the website which isn't working right now, you can do it through the telephone and you can also do it the old-fashioned way you can fill out a manual application to mail in. So right now that's what we're really focused on. Until those other things are flowing like they should be flowing, we're working on doing it manually making sure that our folks don't get taken advantage of.

José Cárdenas: Deanna how are you getting the word out? Again I do want to talk about the insurance brokerage aspect of this but how are you getting the word out to people that this is something that Blue Cross and Chicanos Por La Causa can help them?

Deanna Salazar: So getting the word out has been a challenge with respect to just health insurance in general. So this market in particular, the uninsured and the Hispanic community are less informed about health insurance in general so it's not like we're selling sweaters from, you know, a retail site where you can say what size. These are complicated financial transactions that people need help with and they need help understanding. We're having to be innovative and find ways to communicate with people that reach them in places they're used to being reached. So one example of that is we're going into retail locations where the Hispanic market is shopping and we're putting up kiosks to help inform them about fundamentals and basics of healthcare insurance and with health insurance. We're doing things like having public service announcements on media outlets that are more frequented by the Hispanic community. So just basing fundamental PSAs about how is the time to educate yourself and giving them tools to be able to go out, whether it's website tools, subsidy calculators, frequently asked questions that we've posted out there so they can access those and educate themselves, telling people when it's time to enroll. We've gone out with PSAs to tell them you have the opportunity to go out and buy products for yourself and your family. So talking to them in the media outlets that they're used to frequenting and seeing advertising from other service providers and we're doing some things that are a little bit out of the ordinary. For example, last week we held some telethons some phone banks where we told people they could call and talk to somebody who could help educate them about health insurance and about healthcare reform. So we're trying to find innovative ways to reach this market where we haven't been really involved before. We've always been involved in the Arizona market but not very specific in diving deep into the Hispanic market. So it's testing our innovation and the relationship with CPLC is one of the ways that we're helping sort of bolster that.

José Cárdenas: One of those innovations has to do with the creation of a new entity run by CPLC that provides insurance.

David Adame: We actually set up an insurance agency. It's called CPLC insurance; CPLC Insurance Inc. And the reason we did that because is we wanted to set up an entity that long-term would be more beneficial to serve our community. We touch about 150,000 people a year directly throughout the state of Arizona. And we thought that this was a better approach versus the money that was being made available by the federal government to help folks and those are called navigators. The federal government provided resources that we could have applied for to support our community through traditional education and outreach. We thought setting up this would help us more strategically educate our community because setting up a for-profit insurance company, we then use the profits to reinvest into the system so that we can continue long after this first go around because the first go around, you can sign up between October 1st and March 31st but next year, it won't be as long a period to sign up. so we want to make sure that we have a system set up that long-term strategically we can be in position to help our community for years to come and hopefully develop a model that we can take this to the other areas in the country that we've served with, either directly or with other nonprofits that we've partnered with around the country.

José Cárdenas: Deanna as I understand it, one of the unique things about this relationship is that it's an exclusive relationship, which is not something that Blue Cross normally does.

Deanna Salazar: It's not. So our broker relationships are very important. It's one of the major ways that we get into the community to help Arizonans and our customers and perspective customers understand what their options are with respect to health insurance. We wouldn't be as successful as we have been without brokers. This is different because CPLC through this relationship has agreed to inform consumers about Blue Cross products. A lot of P&C, Property Casualty insurers how these types of relationships which are called captive agents. So CPLC has agreed to do that for us and for us that was important because it helps us really focus on this market and really focus geographically in the rural areas in particular where they have more expertise and they have the ability to reach those people in those markets. So it's a unique relationship for us. It's an extraordinary relationship for us but the brokerage relationships in general are really important to us to make sure that we get the word out and we're able to get people into the carriers to sign up for insurance.

José Cárdenas: Thanks for joining us to explain this and good luck going forward. I'm sure you'll be more successful during the roll-out.

David Adame:Chief Operating Officer, Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.;Deanna Salazar:Senior Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

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