Guest voice by Jamie Kleinsorge, former Certified Application Counselor, Licensed Insurance Broker, member of the Cover Missouri Coalition, and the Cover Missouri Health Insurance Literacy Team.
If you’re not using data to inform your outreach and enrollment strategies this year, you’re doing it wrong. The low hanging fruits of 2013 and 2014 are gone and those that remain without health insurance, for whatever reason, are undoubtedly harder to reach. But there’s good news. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and others have begun to heartily collect and release data about Marketplace enrollment. It’s never been a better time to pay attention to what the data is telling us and I’ve highlighted some tangible sets you can use in your outreach and enrollment efforts below:
Data for Target Areas
HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation recently released zip-code level enrollment data for 2015. This set tells us two things:
- Where large numbers of people have already enrolled and;
- Where enrollment is lacking.
The lighter blue areas on the map—they should be on your list of places to visit. Don’t disregard the higher enrollment areas, but know that their saturation is greater and they may not need as much attention.
Understanding Costs and Benefits
Even with premium increases this year, the average cost of a policy for 2016 is $283 per person. Premium tax credits averaged $250 per individual policy in 2015. That’s digestible math for low and mid-income families who need insurance and may be just the right pair of numbers to entice to the harder-to-convince crowds.
Developing Racially and Ethnically Inclusive Strategies
Uninsured rates are dropping, but we still have a long way to go. Especially in southern states and areas with high racial diversity. Targeting ethnically-dominant events, sporting matches, churches, parochial schools, and other cultural conveners will be key to maximizing your reach.
Beyond Enrollment: Healthy Insurance Literacy
Having insurance is just the first step. Understanding, using, and keeping health insurance can be a daily battle for those who have low literacy or struggle to make ends meet.
Using our Vulnerable Populations Footprint tool, you can view populations that have low educational attainment, high poverty, and live in a medically underserved and health professional shortage area—a “health access axis of doom.” (Okay, maybe I’m being a little over dramatic, but you get my point).
These are just a few examples of how you can start using data to fortify and justify your outreach and enrollment efforts. There’s not much time between now and January 31st—I hope these data and strategies help you make the most of this year’s enrollment season!