NACHC marked the beginning of the 2015 Open Enrollment Period with a Teleforum this week to continue building momentum as health centers get ready to enroll eligible uninsured individuals into coverage.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the end of September health centers reported having more than 19,000 outreach and enrollment staff and have succeeded in enrolling 7 million people into coverage. Also, a new NACHC survey reveals that 97 percent of health center enrollment staff report they are ready for Open Enrollment.
Mandy Cohen, MD, Principal Deputy of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), used the Teleforum to thank health centers for their work, saying, “We could not have been as successful if it had not been for all your hard work, dedication, and sticking with us through some tough times.”
Cohen added that through the Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicaid 10.3 million adults are newly insured and that the uninsured rate has dropped by 25 percent.
She also emphasized that outreach efforts would focus on people who enrolled last year—to encourage them to renew and update information—and to those who remain uninsured. Cohen highlighted a few changes made to the Health Insurance Marketplace to make it simpler to renew/enroll this time around, including a reduction in the number of questions and a triage method of questioning on the sign-up form. The form will also be pre-populated with about 90 percent of a returning customer’s application information, which the customer will simply need to review and update before re-enrolling into coverage.
Another new development is returning customers have been notified about their current plan and have been provided with a 14 digit plan ID number to confirm their information and update their income. Cohen told participants on the call that enrollees can use that ID to find their plan and comparison shop. She also stressed that December 15 is the cutoff date to make changes that will take effect on January 1st and that consumers who don’t make changes by that date need will be automatically rolled over.
Cohen also encouraged health centers to use testimonials from within the community and social media to help spread the word. According to Cohen, one out of four Facebook ads for the Health Insurance Marketplace leads to a new account.
Dan Hawkins, NACHC’s Senior VP for Policy and Research, also participated in the Teleforum and underscored the importance of boosting health literacy among health center patients seeking coverage.
“We need to educate them on the language of insurance coverage and improve health literacy,” said Hawkins. “People need to understand not only what the terms mean but their importance to the coverage they have.”
Hawkins also touched on the health center movement’s history of helping people access care, community outreach, and enrollment into health insurance coverage.
“Health centers have been doing this since the very beginning of the program 50 years ago, helping people to enroll into Medicare and Medicaid coverage during the first years of those programs’ existence,” he said. “We have known forever how important it is to help those we serve to secure coverage for the care and services they need and to make that care affordable for them.”