Health Center News

Outreach and Enrollment Kicks Off Today

November 1 can only mean two things: mounds of leftover Halloween candy to eat and the first day of Outreach and Enrollment (or, as we like to say, O & E). What that means is consumers have the next three months to find an insurance coverage option that works for them.  It also means that Community Health Centers are working hard on the ground with enrollment assistance and education activities (check out NACHC’s podcast on the topic). They are donning their “ASK ME ABOUT INSURANCE” buttons, setting up staffing tables at the entrance of their waiting rooms, or at the local shopping mall, community festivals or state fairs. Health centers are also partnering with a host of groups to make sure everyone who is eligible is covered: faith-based organizations, local pharmacies, Head Start programs, unemployment offices, school districts, and much more.

The biggest news with O & E is that there have been (if you have been reading newspapers) substantial price hikes on premiums. Experts say this is because insurance companies started out initially charging premiums that were too low and are adjusting, and also because some insurers are pulling out of the exchanges, according to published reports. Consumers should also be aware that if they smoke or use tobacco they can be charged higher premiums for coverage.

What is really important is that consumers shop around for the best plan (which may not necessarily be the cheapest), and also learn if they qualify for a subsidy to help cover the cost of premiums. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if a consumer qualifies, he or she can earn extra savings on out-of-pocket health care costs. But only if they enroll in a plan in the Silver category. 

More than 90 percent of Americans now have health insurance, according to the White House. Health centers have provided over 18 million assists with enrollment since 2013.

Helpful links:

NACHC resource page

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) O & E Assistance