Aetna Medicare’s Ricardo Maldonado: Community crusader

Imagine being poor, disabled or homeless, dealing with multiple challenges: Will I eat today? Where will I sleep tonight? When struggling with basic survival needs, understanding Medicare benefits isn’t a priority.

Ricardo Maldonado and his team know these individuals well. As National Director for Aetna Medicare Community Outreach, Ricardo oversees Community Lead Generators — engaging and educating people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (“duals”). Those they meet are often unaware they qualify for a Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP), which offers benefits that can greatly improve their health and quality of life.

“Most people we work with are living day-to-day,” says Ricardo. “They aren’t open to reading plan materials. They’re too busy trying to eat to worry about getting a physical or a test for diabetes.”

In 2018, Ricardo was one of the first people to be recruited for the Medicare Community Lead Generator team with the goal of serving Philadelphia. Today, there are some 60 people on the team helping communities nationwide.

They visit neighborhoods where the most vulnerable individuals live to raise awareness about Aetna’s D-SNP benefits. They offer service, empathy and patience and are passionate about helping people improve their lives and health — whether it’s managing chronic conditions, making important appointments or getting needed medication.

Ricardo and other volunteers help hand out food.
Ricardo hands out produce for low-income families at the Wilson Park Apartments in Philadelphia.

The community connection

“To reach people, we must be in the community where we can build trust and connections,” adds Ricardo.

Meeting people where they are: soup kitchens, food pantries, laundromats and local parks, is important. As a Spanish-speaker, Ricardo also breaks down barriers and provides answers. “For instance, when we say their health plan may include transportation, it’s not unusual to be asked, ‘What’s the catch?’ We’ll find a place to talk and I explain there is none.”

Reverend Vito Baldini, Executive Director of Small Things, a regional food redistributor, attests to the inroads Ricardo has made. “Ricardo is down to earth, humble and compassionate — the very values you must have while working with vulnerable populations. He even serves alongside us as we provided hot meals for homeless people.”

“It’s amazing to witness how much we’ve grown as a team and the positive impact we make in the lives of so many of our neighbors who need our help the most,” says Ricardo.

Thank you, Ricardo, for bringing your heart to our most vulnerable communities.

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