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 email@example.com and we’ll get you set up to help get New York covered!
We already knew that nearly a million New Yorkers had enrolled through NY State of Health during the first open enrollment period from October 1 to March 31. But now we know more than ever about who they were, where they live, and how they enrolled. That’s thanks to the new enrollment report released yesterday by NY State of Health, the official health plan marketplace, which includes eagerly awaited demographics data such as age, race and ethnicity of enrollees.
HCFANY issued a press release, highlighting key findings from the data, such as the importance of in-person assistors in helping New Yorkers obtain health insurance. Nearly 50% of insurance applications were completed with help of in-person assistors, including Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, and brokers. In-person assistance was particularly critical for low-income New Yorkers: more than half (59%) of the Medicaid enrollees used in-person assistance to complete their application.
For the first time, the report offers a glimpse into the race and ethnicity, as well as preferred language, of New York enrollees. Though the data is incomplete – about one in four enrollees chose not to respond to the application on race – it nonetheless will help direct future outreach and enrollment efforts across the state. About 37% of enrollees who answered the question reported their race as Black/African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, or “other” non-white race. About 20% of Medicaid enrollees chose a language other than English, but no enrollees reported their preferred language as Korean, Russian, or French Creole, pointing to potential gaps in these communities. As useful as this data is, it only provides a statewide picture – there is still a need for race, ethnicity and preferred language by county in order to target outreach to the communities that need it most.
Financial assistance was key to the high enrollment numbers in Qualified Health Plans (private health insurance). Nearly 3/4 of enrollees got private health plans with financial assistance in the form of Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTC) or a combination of both APTC and cost-sharing reductions. An average New Yorker who was eligible for financial assistance saved $215 per month in premium.
And, while some enrollees (about 13%) clearly benefited from the Medicaid expansion that made them newly eligible for public insurance, a whopping 93% of Medicaid enrollees were newly insured overall. That means many of those who enrolled in Medicaid were previously eligible but, for whatever reason, had been unable to enroll. New York clearly did something right in building it’s health insurance marketplace – the single, streamlined web application our State officials built is working. And, boy, did New Yorkers come.
Today’s post comes from guest blogger Lois Uttley, of Raising Women’s Voices
“Do you know somebody who needs health insurance?”
That was the conversation starter at the Health Care for All New York booth Sunday at the annual Mamapalooza festival in South Riverside Park, along Manhattan’s Hudson River waterfront. “Yes, me!” was often the answer from the Moms (and Dads) stopping by the booth.
Raising Women’s Voices-New York staffers Lois Uttley and Aliza Lederer-Plaskett and intern Nina Nnamani teamed up with Lorraine Gonzalez of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York to staff the HCFANY booth. While the rainy weather dampened attendance, many of those present expressed surprise and excitement when HCFANY representatives explained the new health insurance options becoming available this October through the New York State Health Benefits Exchange.
“I’m a small business owner, and I just can’t afford health insurance for me and my employees,” explained one woman who wandered over from one of the booths offering products appealing to Moms and families. She was thrilled to hear about the new, more affordable health coverage that will be available to small employers when the state Exchange opens for enrollment on October 1.
HCFANY member organizations, including Raising Women’s Voices-NY, will be out and about at various community festivals this spring and summer, working to raise awareness about the new health coverage that will be available for individuals, families and small employers. Would you like Raising Women’s Voices or another HCFANY member organization to come to your event? If so, contact Liza@raisingwomensvoices.net.
Thanks to everyone who came to last week’s HCFANY briefing in NYC – was a great success and we ended up with a turnout of over 130 people.
Many attendees have been asking for copies of the presentations and materials we had available at the meeting, so we are posting them up here for anyone who is interested. Here is a quick recap:
- Sara Rothstein, Assistant Director for Policy and Planning for the New York Health Benefit Exchange presented an update on implementation of the NYS Health Benefit Exchange including a very broad overview of the State’s outreach and marketing plan, information on the Navigator RFA. You can view Sara’s presentation by clicking here.
Martine Apodaca, Director of the Public Education Campaign for Enroll America presented a profile of the uninsured in New York and their findings on messaging around the new health insurance options based on a national survey. You can view Martine’s presentation by clicking here.
Joanne Bailey, Director of Policy and Research at the New York City Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access (OCHIA) presented on the timeline for health reform implementation in the New York, including a profile of the uninsured in New York City, and the potential challenges and opportunities brought by the ACA. You can view Joanne’s presentation by clicking here.
In addition, we had several publications and handouts available:
- HCFANY’s 2013 ACA Advocacy Agenda
- Reaching One Million More New Yorkers: A Successful Enrollment Campaign for the Exchange
- HCFANY’s Agenda to Address Health Disparities
- New Coverage Options Coming Soon
- Profile of The Uninsured in NYC
- Small Employers and the Health Care Law
- Profile of the Uninsured: People With Disabilities in NYC