Focus shifts from health plan enrollment to healthcare outreach

While many Affordable Care Act supporters have toiled to get individuals to sign up for health insurance, now the focus has shifted to making sure that newly covered customers actually use their insurance to access healthcare.

Such is the case in Connecticut, where Rebecca Santiago, a community healthcare nurse navigator at the Curtis D. Robinson Center for Health Equity at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, teaches people how to use their insurance and talk to their doctors, the Connecticut Mirror reports.

Santiago also conducts considerable outreach in the Hispanic community, where she's found that many people don't know that their insurance covers preventive services. Or if they are covered through Medicaid, some patients struggle to find doctors who will take them. Still others simply fear or are suspicious of doctors and hospitals.

Indeed, while a government survey released in July indicated that the rates of uninsured Hispanic and black Americans have decreased since 2014, the report noted that race and ethnicity-based disparities remain.

"Having [an insurance] card is nice, but what do we need to do to make sure that we're actually coalescing our efforts around getting people care when they need it," Victoria Veltri, a healthcare advocate for the state, told the newspaper. "That is something that really needs a lot of focus."

Thus Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange, seeks to help individuals better understand their coverage and navigate the healthcare system. The exchange's CEO, Jim Wadleigh, told the publication he found it "startling" that according to a recent survey, 36 of those who bought private health insurance through Access Health CT had not used their plans.

For many states, though, continued funding is far from certain for the assister programs that help customers enroll in health plans through their online marketplaces, FierceHealthPayer has reported. That's especially troubling considering that half of uninsured Americans may lack confidence when selecting health plans.

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Related Articles:
Uninsured rate for Hispanic, black Americans dropped in 2014
Half of uninsured Americans lack confidence when selecting health plans
Health exchange assisters continue to enroll consumers amid funding uncertainty
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