Health Center Federal Policy, Health Center News, Uncategorized

Time to Help Patients Get Covered: Open Enrollment Tips

Spread the word! The period to enroll for health insurance coverage in the federal Health Insurance Marketplace – – is November 1 through December 15, 2020. This is the 8th Open Enrollment Period (OE8) under the Affordable Care Act and it is unlike any other open enrollment period.

Millions of Americans have lost jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding affordable, comprehensive coverage is more important than ever.

Health centers play a key role in connecting patients with health insurance

Health centers continue to provide a critical role in providing outreach and enrollment (O&E) assistance to patients and community members seeking affordable health insurance coverage options in the Marketplace, Medicaid, CHIP, or elsewhere. 

In 2019, health centers provided over 4 million assists as reported through HRSA’s Uniform Data System Annual Report. Health centers employ outreach workers and enrollment assisters that provide critical enabling services that help reduce barriers to care. Health centers are required by HRSA to engage in O&E activities. UDS continues to serve as HRSA’s mechanism for assessing health center O&E activities.

Research continues to show the importance of in-person assistance for completing enrollment into coverage. A recent study by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 94% of consumers who got assistance said it was very or somewhat helpful.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made in-person assistance difficult and it has fundamentally changed the way enrollment is conducted at many health centers. Navigators and assisters in many states are now offering virtual or over-the-phone appointments to continue serving consumers in need of health coverage. 

Open enrollment resources for health centers

  • Young Invincibles has also developed and continues to update an OE8 Partner Toolkit. Click here for the English version and here for the Spanish version. Included in the Toolkit are Virtual Enrollment Best Practices, Tips for Messaging to Consumers, COVID-19 considerations for Marketplace coverage, a OE8 Virtual Content Calendar, and links to additional resources.

Lastly, it’s important to note that while 30 states use – and 6 states have state-based marketplaces that use the federal platform – 15 states have State-Based Marketplaces (SBMs). Kaiser Family Foundation has a list of all exchange types by state. Please note that states with SBMs may have open enrollment periods that differ from the federal marketplace.

Continue your great work getting the word out!


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