Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Administration and Its Allies Turn to Spanish Media to Market Health Law

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

July 23, 2013 -- Perhaps the most overlooked beneficiary of President Barack Obama's health care law is the Spanish language channel Univision.

Univision Communications Inc. and other Spanish-speaking media outlets are at the center of a multi-million-dollar effort to explain the overhaul to Latinos, who are critical to the law's success because one of every three uninsured people in the United States is Hispanic.
For example, Univision is getting millions of dollars from the insurer WellPoint to post information about the law on its website, hold monthly town hall meetings in cities around the country, and detail, in Spanish, the benefits on radio and television.

The state of California is paying Univision, Telemundo, and other Spanish-language outlets a total of $10 million of the $290 million that federal officials provided the state for publicity about the law, say state officials.

The outreach effort to Latinos by insurers, unions, consumer advocates, the seniors group AARP and, most of all, by Obama administration officials, is ramping up with 70 days to go before open enrollment begins in the new marketplaces created by the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152).

Obama administration officials are making plenty of live appearances to Latino audiences, including a recent speech by First Lady Michelle Obama at the nationwide conference of the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy organization. Other administration experts on the health care law have also been at the conference and at a related health summit.

"The goal is to get folks to sign up for the insurance so they have the care they need to stay healthy," the first lady told the crowd in Washington, D.C. "As leaders in our communities, we are going to need your help to make this happen. And I know that you all were briefed on this new law by senior [federal] administrators at the Health Summit that was recently held here. So here's what I'm asking you to do. Are you listening? The minute you get back home from this conference, we need you to get out there and educate everyone you know about what health reform means for them."

Obama pressed especially hard for Latinos in California, Florida and Texas to tell young people to enroll, "because one-third of the young people we need to reach live in those states."

Health law supporters can use the media to amplify their message.

That's why WellPoint, a major insurer affiliated with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association that operates in 14 states, is partnering with Univision to run short television spots initially in California, Colorado, Georgia and New York, four states with a large number of uninsured Latinos. And there are plans to expand the effort.

Blitz Campaign in California

In California, where nearly half of the uninsured are Latino, the state is using federal dollars for a new partnership—known as Asegúrate, or "Get Covered"—with four major Spanish-speaking media outlets: Univision, Telemundo, La Opinion and impreMedia. The media campaign will deliver information in Spanish through TV, radio, digital and print media, as well as telethons and live events.

The Spanish-language media partnership received not only the $10 million in federal money via the state of California, but $40 million from the California Endowment, a nonprofit whose mission includes expanding health care coverage to the poor. The California Endowment's total budget for telling people about the law and helping them enroll is about $240 million, said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president at the Endowment. The president praised the Latino media initiative during a visit to the state in June.

The health care law in many ways represents an opportunity for Democrats to build on their support with Hispanic voters. While some Latino leaders are frustrated by the slow pace of action on an immigration overhaul, the health care law is widely popular among Latinos who know about its benefits. In California, promoters of the law are not shying away from using the tag "Obamacare," because the term does not connote controversy among Latinos as much as other groups, said Zingale.

The push to promote support among Latinos of the health care law is not all that different from Obama's political campaigns among that group. The White House already has extensive connections to Hispanic leaders that it is tapping for its outreach efforts on the law.

The administration's message will be highly visible on, the website Latinos use most often. The company is in the midst of building a new section within its site that will be supported financially and substantively by the federal government, state governments, health insurers and non-governmental organizations that are helping with enrollment.

The site will be designed to give readers all the information they need about the health overhaul. It will provide directories of local groups that will help Hispanics enroll and determine how much of a federal subsidy they should expect. It will link to, the Health and Human Services (HHS) platform for the health care law; websites of state marketplaces heavily involved in the rollout, such as Covered California; and tools such as subsidy calculators or social media sites. The Univision website will be partly produced by Hola Doctor, a company that specializes in Latino media, marketing and translation.

The Univision site will guide Latinos to a call center with Spanish-speaking health care experts or live online chats so that readers can ask questions about the overhaul. It also will feature videos of health care experts talking in Spanish about the health law. People will be able to sign up for electronic newsletters about the overhaul or find resources for more information.

"We have teamed together to provide Hispanics a multimedia experience that provides important up-to-date information about the ACA [Affordable Care Act] including timing of implementation, how to select a health plan and information about subsidies that may be available to them," said Jorge Daboub, Univision Communications senior vice president of business development.

Already on the Univision/Hola Doctor website is detailed information about the law and the new marketplaces that mirrors information released by federal officials. On the site, a picture of a smiling Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pops up in a photo slide show touting the benefits of the health care law.

Both the look of the media presentations as well as the coordination with federal officials seems seamless. The online Univision slide shows and news may not stand out to Hispanics as information that came originally from the federal government, which some Latinos may view with skepticism, but instead looks like an integral part of the trusted news site.

Close Univision-White House Collaboration

Univision and Hola Doctor producers stay in touch with Obama administration officials such as Mayra Alvarez, a former Senate Democratic staffer who directs public health policy at HHS and has been traveling the country with officials like HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Nadine Gracia to promote the law. Their work is supported by White House officials including Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House domestic policy council and a former vice president at LaRaza.

Over the past couple of months, the Obama administration held a series of webinars to train staff at Univision, Telemundo and Entravision on the health law. HHS officials have hosted twitter town halls with its Latino media partners. In June, HHS officials launched new Twitter and Facebook handles—@HHSLatino and @CuidadodeSalud—which tout a call center line for Spanish-speaking people with questions about implementation of the law.

Those efforts dovetail with the creation of another website by the seniors' group AARP,, which is expected to launch Aug. 1. The English-speaking version is

The digital, radio and TV media also are intended to increase attendance at community events where people can find out more about enrollment, such as Spanish-speaking health fairs where booths staffed by experts on the law can provide more details.

"Spanish media has been the key" to driving participation, said Zingale, whose organization has been part of recent health fairs. When the group sponsored one health fair without coordinating with local Spanish radio and TV announcers who could publicize it, Zingale said, "We got a third of the numbers when we had Spanish media pushing it."

The administration has consistently reached out to Latino media with Spanish language press conference calls and interviews with Spanish-language outlets. On July 16, Obama was interviewed by four anchors from local Spanish-language networks.

HHS officials, including Sebelius in some cases, have provided remarks for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference, town halls in Washington for La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Hispanic Medical Association.

Through the HHS Promotores de Salud/Community Health Workers Initiative, which was launched in Obama's first term with the goal of reducing health disparities among minorities, HHS officials are in close contact with Spanish-speaking community health workers and advocates. They hold quarterly meetings and frequent informal conversations. The administration's faith-based office has been hosting monthly Spanish-language webinars over the last year and a half on the health care law.

"As one of the most disproportionately uninsured populations, Latinos are a key group to reach ahead of open enrollment in October," said HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters. "That is why we are engaging in ambitious outreach and educational efforts aimed at helping Latinos and all Americans to prepare for the new opportunities."

Publication Details