Almost thirty million Americans lack health insurance. For the uninsured, even wellness visits can become inaccessible. Not only is this bad for individuals who lack insurance, but it can also be problematic for the healthcare networks in their area.
A lack of preventative care often correlates with a higher occurrence of medical emergencies. These people who can’t get treatment when they are healthy are instead receiving it when they are already sick—often at a stage in which successful intervention is less likely.
Healthcare systems can help bridge the gap in healthcare access by understanding how to market themselves to struggling populations.
Underprivileged communities are healthcare hesitant due to the overwhelming costs. Often, these concerns are legitimate. Almost twenty percent of Americans report an inability to afford healthcare, while many more say that they are financially unprepared for a healthcare-related emergency.
The costs of even basic care can be overwhelming for people living below the poverty line. However, there are often programs in place that make care more accessible—resources they may not be aware of. As a healthcare provider, it is your responsibility to not only provide care but also help the community you are serving better understand their options.
Healthcare providers understand that every community is unique in its healthcare struggles. Sometimes the barrier to care is straightforward. For example, a lack of insurance, or ready capital to pay for treatments. Other times, the issue may be more nuanced.
For example, consider the conditions of rural America. Often, country hospitals will service geographically massive areas. The people living in these regions may have to travel many miles to access care. If they don’t drive, that alone could be a big barrier to care, even if they do have insurance.
Remember that marketing and sales are all about providing people with a solution to their problems. Find out what is keeping your patients from coming in, and work on advertising ways around that problem.
In an area with low rates of insured patients, it may be a state-subsidized financing program. In an area that lacks public transportation, it might be your mobile health clinics or telehealth infrastructure.
Once you figure out what is keeping people from care, the job becomes getting the message out that there are ways around the issue. For example, what makes healthcare more financially accessible? Most states will have localized solutions for providing impoverished people with care.
Then there are other resources. Medicaid remains an option for people who are struggling with their finances. Other programs may be specifically geared toward helping immigrants achieve affordable care. Your healthcare network itself may even have internal initiatives that will help with the financial realities of healthcare.
While the circumstances of appealing to people in financially distressed areas might be slightly unique, the basics of marketing remain the same. You still need to put out a compelling message and make sure that it is seen by the people who will be most likely to take advantage of it. That means:
It may take some trial and error to market healthcare to underprivileged communities. Understand that most Americans are distrustful of or uncomfortable with the expenses associated with the healthcare industry. Those feelings will only run deeper with people who do not have the resources to pay for expensive care.