Entering the Final Stretch

Feb 3, 2015, 6:15 PM, Posted by David Adler

As we head into the final weeks of this year’s open enrollment season, we can all be proud of the progress that’s been made. New numbers released last week show 9.5 million Americans signed up for health coverage through marketplaces across the country. Behind each number is someone who now has quality, affordable health coverage with access to health care when they need it and protection from financial ruin if they get sick.

But there are still millions more who are eligible for coverage this open enrollment period. RWJF and our partners are doing all we can to get as many people enrolled as possible before the February 15 deadline. These collective efforts focus on breaking down the biggest enrollment barriers for people to get covered. Our research shows that consumers are more motivated to enroll when they understand the benefits of coverage, believe they can afford the cost, and know they can find enrollment support to complete the process.

Enroll America, an RWJF grantee, is addressing the need for in-person help head on—operating grassroots efforts in 11 states and connecting consumers to enrollment tools and help nationwide. Their connector tool, allows consumers to schedule appointments for in-person help right away. Drawing from lessons learned from the first open enrollment period we know this one-on-one support will be critical for many consumers during these final weeks.

Consumer Voices for Coverage (CVC), a longstanding program funded by RWJF, coordinates local enrollment activities in states. By organizing statewide coalitions, CVC identifies gaps in enrollment work, reaches out to communities who might otherwise be missed, and provides critical feedback to state and local officials on how to improve enrollment.

Many of our partner organizations are trusted messengers for consumers who are eligible for coverage. These organizations provide answers to specific questions about insurance options. For example, groups like the National Council of La Raza and the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum are helping consumers who may have particular questions about immigration status and coverage or who need help in a language other than English. As state laws around same-sex marriage continue to change, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers may have questions about eligibility and coverage. Recently, Out2Enroll, created a platform to connect consumers to assisters who can help answer these questions. And the NAACP is working to engage faith leaders to help spread the message of the importance of coverage.

The Foundation’s own Talk Health Insurance to Me digital campaign is using humorous ads, social and earned media outreach and organizational partnerships to promote the availability of low-cost health plans and financial help to lower the cost of monthly premiums. Through the campaign, we’ve created resources in English and Spanish for organizations conducting outreach to motivate consumers to enroll.

Getting people covered is essential to our vision for a Culture of Health helping everyone live the healthiest life possible. Thankfully, this is a growing reality for millions of people in America. In these final weeks leading up to the February 15th deadline let’s exert an extra push in our work together so millions more can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’re covered.

David Adler / RWJF

David Adler, MPA, is a program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to increase the number of Americans with health insurance and improve the value the nation gets for its investments in health and health care. Read his full bio.