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Honoring Hispanic Heritage at Blue Cross NC

By Santiago Estrada | October 15, 2021 | Life at Blue Cross NC

Multigenerational Hispanic family sits together on the front steps of their house

As we approach the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, I reflect fondly on my family’s journey to North Carolina. When we arrived in Raleigh in the early 1970s, my parents (dad from Cuba and mother from Argentina) held close to their Latin traditions, and our young family had already lived in Brazil and Central America. You can imagine the curiosity of seeing our family of four speaking Spanish when we took our first walk through then-new Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh so many years ago.

We truly had a unique profile in our community. According to the 1970 Census, there were only 970 persons of Spanish language in Wake County at the time. Even though it was not the most diverse state to move to at the time, my family was very attracted to the quality of life here in North Carolina, which included having access to excellent healthcare.

Fast forward 50 years, and the state of North Carolina has seen tremendous growth in its Hispanic community, with 116,000 Hispanics residing in Wake County according to the 2020 Census. Our community has not only grown here in the Triangle but has also established a presence in rural counties across the state. Unfortunately, many of North Carolina’s rural communities don’t have the same access to health care and economic mobility that Raleigh has offered my family and others. Furthermore, many within the Hispanic community who reside here in the Triangle experience barriers to care despite being in an area with so many established health care providers.

While about 30% of Hispanics in North Carolina remain uninsured due to cost, language and other barriers,  I am hopeful that more and more individuals will gain access to the care and essentials they need to thrive. I feel especially encouraged about the unique position Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is in to support these underserved communities. Our very purpose is to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians, with a relentless pursuit of making health care better for all. We’ve got a long road ahead, but we’re well on our way.

As a longstanding citizen of this great state, I am proud of the rich culture and other contributions that the Hispanic community – along with other immigrant communities – brings to North Carolina. As Chief Legal Officer at Blue Cross NC, I am proud to play a role in supporting Blue Cross NC’s mission of better health care for all.

Santiago Estrada

 

 

This year we launched Healthy Blue, our Medicaid managed care plan that provides thousands of North Carolinians access to a network of more than 48,000 health providers and to services that positively impact social drivers of health.

Blue Cross NC also invests in nonprofit organizations that are working daily in Hispanic communities to provide food, financial assistance, health screenings and more. As part of our health equity strategy, we will be announcing a number of initiatives that will serve historically underserved populations, including the Hispanic community, starting with a $2M RFP for evidence-based strategies that improve maternal and infant health outcomes.

As a longstanding citizen of this great state, I am proud of the rich culture and other contributions that the Hispanic community – along with other immigrant communities – brings to North Carolina. As Chief Legal Officer at Blue Cross NC, I am proud to play a role in supporting Blue Cross NC’s mission of better health care for all. We have an amazing opportunity in front of us.

From the day I arrived here with my family when I only spoke a jumbled mix of Spanish, Portuguese and English, I have always felt supported. Blue Cross NC’s warm, people-oriented culture that celebrates and pursues diversity, equity and inclusion within our company and for our members and communities continues to make me and others feel just as supported.