A little (messaging) help from our friends

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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.

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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!

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Guest post by Jessie Kavanagh, Master’s Student in Public Health, Hunter College

 

 

 

 

People with more knowledge about the ACA and health insurance were more likely to enroll in the Marketplaces, according to a new Enroll America survey.  The July 2014 report, “Voices from the Newly Enrolled and Still Uninsured,” produced by Enroll America and PerryUndem Research/Communications, offers insights into why Americans decided whether or not to enroll through the newly created Marketplaces during the first open enrollment period. In particular, a large knowledge gap between insured and uninsured adults points to the need for more outreach and education on our health care system and ACA provisions.

The researchers surveyed adults across the US aged 18-64, and the report analyses are based on two sample groups: 671 enrolled adults and 853 uninsured adults.

Below are highlights of the survey findings:

Uninsured individuals need more information about financial assistance.

  • Only 26% of uninsured people knew that financial assistance/subsidies were available through the Marketplace.
  • Over half of the uninsured respondents assumed that insurance was too expensive and therefore decided against enrolling.
  • 1 in 3 uninsured people began the enrollment process, but did not end up enrolling for various reasons such as concerns about cost.

Uninsured Americans need more information about ACA provisions and the healthcare system in general.

  •  Almost half of uninsured adults don’t understand the term “premium.”
  • Only a quarter of the uninsured knew that preventive care is now free under the ACA.

More outreach and education is needed to reach Latinos and young adults in particular.

  •  20% of Latinos said the Marketplace was too confusing as compared to only 9% of whites.
  • Latinos and young adults were the most likely of the uninsured to not know about the open enrollment deadline and individual mandate.
  • More than half of young adult respondents did not know they might be able to stay on their parent’s insurance until they turned 26.

Nearly half of uninsured respondents said they would “definitely,” or “probably” enroll next year if they are still uninsured. However, 42% were unsure. This shows how important it is to create more and better ways to reach and educate uninsured populations to ensure that no one goes without care.

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Navigator Leon McIntosh helps New Yorker Anna enroll

We all know finding the right health insurance plan can be complicated and overwhelming – even with the launch of the insurance marketplaces offering one-stop shopping under the ACA. One of the most exciting features of the ACA is the establishment of assister programs to help people enroll (e.g. Navigators and Certified Application Counselors). A new survey from Kaiser Family Foundation shows just how effective these groups were during the first open enrollment period.

According to the survey, administered to directors of assister programs around the country:

28,000 assisters helped 10.6 million people apply for coverage and financial assistance.

States with State-based Marketplaces, like New York, had a much higher ratio of assisters to uninsured and helped two times as many people relative to the uninsured population when compared to states with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace. Our own NY State of Health‘s recent enrollment report shows that 643 Navigators and nearly 4,000 Certified Application Counselors helped over 413,000 New Yorkers enroll in coverage. That’s nearly half of enrollees.

Most consumers who sought help applying for coverage were uninsured and had limited health insurance literacy.

The vast majority of programs reported that consumers seeking help had a limited understanding of the ACA and struggled with basic health insurance terms, like “deductible.” As a result, assistance took time – between one to two hours in most cases.

Nearly all assister programs have been “re-contacted” by consumers with post-enrollment problems, including questions about how coverage works.

Questions from consumers don’t stop at enrollment. However, assister programs are not trained on post-enrollment issues, and in many cases don’t have funding that allows them to provide this type of assistance. Instead, the ACA established Consumer Assistance Programs (CAPs) to provide these services, but these programs haven’t received federal funding since 2012. Luckily, New York legislators recently approved $2.5 million in the 2014-2015 budget for the State’s CAP, Community Health Advocates (CHA). Thanks to the funding, CHA will be able to provide more robust hotline and in-person services through community-based organizations in the coming months.