A little (messaging) help from our friends


The remaining uninsured have lingering concerns about health insurance affordability, and many are  unaware of their state’s Marketplace and upcoming opportunities to enroll. That’s according to a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored study about barriers and motivations of the uninsured to enrolling in health insurance during the ACA’s second enrollment period.  The study, conducted by PerryUndem Research/Communication and GMMB, involved a national survey of 1,259 uninsured consumers and 10 focus groups in six cities: Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, and Teaneck, NJ.

Key findings highlight the need for more outreach to the uninsured during the upcoming open enrollment period, which starts on November 15. For example, more than half of the uninsured did not look into enrolling during the last open enrollment period. And, one in four was unaware of the federal or their state’s marketplace. Additionally, 58% of the uninsured have financial debt, and affordability of health insurance continues to be a top concern.

The good news is, nearly three in four want health coverage: 72% agreed with the statement: “Having health insurance would make my life better.” In light of these findings, the researchers recommend the following when it comes to messaging to the uninsured:

Speak to barriers. Emphasize that low-cost plans and financial help are available and people can get in-person help to apply.

Encourage people to check out their options. Many of the uninsured did not look at the Marketplace last year. Those who did could still find different options this year.

Talk about the fine. Give the facts about the fine and how it will increase in 2015 and 2016. This gives an extra “push” to those already thinking about enrolling.

Use peer networks to get out the word. People want to know that it’s possible to get good coverage and financial help to afford it and it helps to hear this from someone they trust.

These messaging strategies can help those doing outreach to the remaining uninsured in New York State. New York enrolled over 1.5 million people in the first year of the NY State of Health Marketplace, but we still have work to do to ensure all New Yorkers are covered. Getting the word out – and using the right messages to do so – will be key to making sure the second open enrollment period is a success.

View the full RWJF report here.

As of September, 1.5 million New Yorkers had enrolled in coverage through the NY State of Health Marketplace. Are you one of them? Or, do you know others who enrolled? The time to renew that NY State of Health coverage is coming right up!

How will renewing coverage work? The NY State of Health just released this new video that breaks down the process. The short (1.5 minute) video includes important details, like:

  • Those who enrolled last year will receive a renewal notice before open enrollment begins on November 15, including key details like what coverage they have currently and how much it will cost to keep the same plan.
  • Those who agree with the notices and do not want to make changes will be automatically enrolled in the same plan for another year.
  • Those who need or want to change their coverage can make a change between November 16 and December 15 for January coverage. Changes can be made online at nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by calling the helpline at 1-855-355-5777, or by visiting an in-person assistor in their community.

We could go on, but why not watch it here for yourself? And better yet, send the link to friends and family who enrolled. It’s all part of making sure those 1.5 million New Yorkers who have already enrolled can keep their coverage in the years ahead.


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With open enrollment just over a month away, the New York State Marketplace has been adding some new and noteworthy features. Many of these are geared toward improving outreach and enrollment efforts to reach the remaining uninsured in New York. About 2.7 million New Yorkers were uninsured before the Marketplace launch. Over 1.4 million had enrolled in plans by the end of August, over 80 percent of whom were uninsured when they application.

In other words, we’ve made incredible progress. And there’s still work to do.

With that in mind, here are a few things to check out:

Events calendar for enrollment assistance 

New Yorkers who are looking to learn more about their options and enroll now have one more way to find certified assistors. The Marketplace now has an interactive events calendar where assistors are posting everything from free health insurance workshops to tabling at community events. Upcoming highlights are a Harvest Festival in Walden (October 4) and a Diwali festival in Hicksville (October 12). An interactive map allows people to search by region.

Enrollment demographics by county and zipcode

New county-by-county enrollment data is now available on the Marketplace website. Click on a county to view enrollment data by type of program, percentage of enrollees who were uninsured at the time of application, race/ethnicity, gender, and age. This new data will help advocates and community-based organizations target outreach efforts in the coming months.

Data is also available down to the zipcode level by type of program. You can view data for up to 10 zipcodes at once by using their new tool here.

Coming soon…the NY State of Health Marketplace in Spanish

Marketplace Executive Director Donna Frescatore announced at recent the Regional Outreach and Enrollment Summits that a Spanish-language version of the NY State of Health website will be available in time for this year’s open enrollment launch on November 15. Last year’s enrollment of Spanish speaking New Yorkers was three times lower than the Urban Institute’s 2013 enrollment projections. Hopefully the new website helps to boost those numbers.

Urban Institute Projections vs. NY State of Health (NYSOH) Actual Enrollment by Language 

enrollment by language

Outreach Worker Engracia Jamieson and Volunteer Jan Kenyon at Great Day in Harlem  (above) and   RWV-NY Community Organizer Liza Lederer (right) at Brooklyn Pride

This coming Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, and it’s been a busy one for health coverage advocates and volunteers! Here’s an update from the field from the Get Covered NY Campaign, a grassroots effort to raise awareness about the new insurance options available through NY State of Health, and help NYC residents get covered. Get Covered NY is a project of Health Care For All New York, Greater NYC for Change, and Raising Women’s Voices – NY.

Guest Post by Aliza Lederer-Plaskett, Community Organizer for Raising Women’s Voices-NY

Raising Women’s Voices and our partners in the Get Covered NY initiative are wrapping up a busy summer of outreach to uninsured New Yorkers. We have tabled and leafleted at a wide variety of events in low-income communities in Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as Westchester and Rockland counties.

We’ve been to the Hunts Point Summer Fish Festival in the Bronx. We’ve reached out to LGBT people by tabling at Pride Festivals in Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Rockland County and lower Manhattan. We’ve been to book fairs, Harlem Week and back-to-school events where we can reach families with children who may be eligible for Child Health Plus. In Westchester and Rockland Counties, we have done outreach at cultural festivals and presentations on the Affordable Care Act and NY State of Health for members and staff of local nonprofit organizations.

Our dedicated and trained Get Covered New York volunteers have been taking clipboards and handouts around the events, interacting with attendees and taking down the names of people who would like to be contacted by a Navigator to begin the application process. Through this hands-on approach, we have collected more than 900 names of uninsured and underinsured individuals throughout July and August.

As we speak with uninsured people in the field and collect their information, we have noted who has experienced a major life change – which may qualify them for a special open enrollment period. We also flag people who we think might qualify for Medicaid, for which there is year-round enrollment. We then forward their contact information directly to a Navigator at the Community Service Society.  Other uninsured individuals are entered into the Get Covered NY database, to be called by volunteers at phone banks that will start up again as the November 15 start of the next open enrollment period draws closer.

We have begun to pack our September and October schedule chock full of community events to ensure that we can reach as many people as possible prior to the start of the new enrollment period.  Got an event you’d like to see us at?  Interested in becoming a volunteer? Please contact Liza Lederer at liza@raisingwomensvoices.net and we’ll get you set up to help get New York covered!