09:06 AM

Making a Bigger Difference for Our State’s Largest Minority



By partnering with the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey, Horizon is helping to bring more care to underserved communities.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-fifth of New Jersey’s population identified as Hispanic or Latino in 2018, making Hispanics the largest minority in the state. While Hispanics enrich New Jersey’s cultural diversity, they face some of the biggest obstacles to optimal health. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Hispanics are twice as likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, and nearly 25% more likely to struggle with high blood pressure and obesity.

Many factors impact the access Hispanics have to health care – income, education level, immigration status or a combination of other social determinants of health. ­­Sometimes, they may struggle with managing their health or even finding the right health resources.

To make a bigger difference in the health of Hispanic New Jerseyans, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (BCBSNJ), the state’s largest health insurer, continually seeks out partners that are already building healthier communities. One of those partners is the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey. Founded in 1976, the Center serves 10,000 Hispanic individuals and families each year. Its services span more than 20 culturally relevant programs, including health education and prevention services, mental health services, substance use treatment, and social service programs such as job training and family support.

Horizon BCBSNJ has worked with the Center for the last six years supporting health services like pediatric asthma prevention. Seeing the impact the Hispanic Center is making, we wanted to do more.

This year, through its philanthropic arm, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Horizon BCBSNJ expanded its commitment by funding the Center’s community health navigation program, Pathways to Health. The new $60,000 grant is designed to promote health awareness and prevent and control common chronic diseases in at-risk, low-income underserved individuals.

To do that, the grant is underwriting the full-time position of a community health navigator. This staff member acts as a connector to health services. For example, patients who work two or three jobs may not be able to take off time to contact a doctor’s office, much less attend a doctor’s visit. Language barriers can make interactions confusing or overwhelming. The care coordinator will help a person find a doctor, schedule an appointment, make reminder calls and even accompany them to the visit if translation is needed.

Elsa Candelario, executive director of the Hispanic Family Center, said the Horizon Foundation has been instrumental in reaching Hispanic families where it matters most.

“We see the biggest impact is when we’re working one on one with individuals,” Candelario said. “The Horizon Foundation has made that possible. We don’t have any other partner that’s actually doing that for our community.”

Horizon’s partnership does more than assist with navigating health care touchpoints. Funding from the Horizon Foundation helps provide educational workshops about social determinants of health and how to address them, health prevention information such as the asthma prevention program and education on health insurance benefits.

Horizon BCBSNJ wants to be there for the Center when the unexpected happens, too. Flooding closed the Center’s mental health facility for months and all the furniture was ruined. The Horizon Foundation stepped up to provide replacement furniture so it could open again.

Candelario remembers that well: “That’s the kind of partnership that goes beyond just funding. It says, ‘We care about you.’”