The impact of immigration reform on healthcare, marketing, and healthcare marketing

Here at FLY Health, we keep a healthy dialogue about what is happening throughout the healthcare community now and how it affects our clients and the industry. An important topic of concern is immigration. In this post, we break it down to examine how immigration reform affects healthcare, marketing, and healthcare marketing.


The intersection of healthcare and immigration offers many different angles. We often find ourselves stepping into the perspective of the provider, a key target audience for many of our clients. When probing the question of how immigration reform affects healthcare, and more specifically healthcare providers, the outlook is disconcerting. Per the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), foreign physicians are needed to fill a growing shortage of American-born MDs. The AAMC also says that international physicians fill care gaps in the US as they tend to choose specialties that are less desirable among domestic doctors, such as primary care and rural medicine. This interactive map generated by economics grads from Harvard and MIT shows that doctors from the 6 currently banned countries see an estimated 14 million patients per year, and are concentrated in the Rust Belt Midwest. For example, 1.2 million of those appointments are in Michigan alone.

George Gershwin, President of United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in the United States, goes so far as to say that the immigration ban will weaken American healthcare, especially when considering that 200,000 nurses and 1 in 5 doctors are foreign born. But “extreme vetting” is supposed to make us safer, right? Well, the American Medical Association recently sent an open letter to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security asking for clarification on questions related to patient access to healthcare and physicians who have already been granted visas.


Marketers strive to align their brand with their target audience’s values, and immigration is no exception. So, what effect does immigration reform have on marketing? No need to look any further than Super Bowl 51. The ads this year emphasized diversity and the immigrant’s tale.

The bold messages in marketing media as of late demonstrate that 2017 is the year to take a stand in advertising. No more apolitical brands. This Ad Age article highlights Anheuser-Busch as the voice of the pro-diversity movement in advertising. Their Super Bowl ad depicting a young man’s immigration journey in the mid-1800s generated a lot of buzz. But maybe Budweiser can get away with such a risky move because everyone knows that the best way to cool off a heated immigration debate is to crack open a cold one! And yet, while we recognize that immigration dominated the ads, the Patriots ultimately won the game. A true yin-yang moment for the football universe. Namaste.

Healthcare Marketing

Considering the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, let’s look at what immigration reform means for healthcare marketing. That question is difficult to answer, but a survey of 700 marketers gives a more general perspective on how the election of President Trump affected healthcare marketing budgets. And the answer is…not at all. 62% of respondents said the election of Number 45 has no significant impact on their 2017 budget. On the flip side, 25.7% of marketers said it does, a substantial cohort that may in turn have long term impact on healthcare marketing.

The FLY Health Take Away

So, there you have it. When it comes to healthcare, immigration reform is a turbulent, alarming gray area. For marketing, immigration reform has reinvigorated a passionate theme that may connect audiences to brands they know and love. As for healthcare marketing, the effects are yet to be determined.

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