Exchange enrollment won't get easier, but as health insurance and exchange leaders look back on the first open enrollment period, it can get better.
They should put some of the major lessons learned into practice during the next open enrollment beginning in November, Jennifer Sullivan, director of the Best Practices Institute at Enroll America, a coalition working on behalf of the Affordable Care Act, said in a World Congress interview. Three of those best practices include:
1. Multiple follow-ups
Insurers must follow up with consumers multiple times to make sure they take action and sign up for coverage. "Just talking with them once or sending them one piece of outreach material is not enough," Sullivan explained.
Data from Enroll America showed one consumer conversation would lead to about 20 percent of individuals successfully enrolling. Talking to consumers four or more times would increase the percentage of successful enrollment to 33 percent of people.
2. In-person assistance
In-person assistance was key to enrolling certain populations in healthcare coverage, particularly Latinos and African Americans. Latinos value face-to-face assistance help and respond well to "trusted resources" when obtaining information about coverage options, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
"It was really important that they could meet with somebody face-to-face in their own community who could help walk them through the process," Sullivan said.
Some successful Latino outreach efforts involved Latino organizations within communities not only providing information about coverage but also immediate in-person assistance to enroll on the spot, she noted.
The first open enrollment period reinforced the need for organizations to leverage one another's strengths to move the needle on enrollment. Sullivan pointed to a model that coordinated assistance efforts across North Carolina. A legal services group ran a universal, statewide assistance scheduling system that allowed consumers to call in from anywhere to that single hotline and get help from an assister in their community.
The healthcare industry also can leverage the support of businesses nationwide to educate customers about insurance options available through the ACA, including sports organizations, corporations and broadcasters. Even tax preparers can serve as an assister for uninsured consumers who remain uneducated about how to obtain coverage under the reform law.
- listen to the interview