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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Three Things Navigators and Assisters Can Do to Help Health Care Consumers Post-Enrollment

Jessica Kendall

Director of State Partnerships

The first open enrollment has ended--more than seven million people enrolled in health insurance through the marketplace. But as you know, there are many consumers who are still in the midst of the enrollment process and who are working to complete their applications and select a health plan.    

This post highlights what your organization can do this month to help consumers finish the application process, answer questions for many consumers who are using health insurance for the first time, and debrief internally about lessons learned. 

Follow up with consumers who were not able to complete the health insurance application for marketplace coverage. 

1.  As we wrote last week in our post on the state of enrollment, the federal government provided extra time for consumers to enroll if they started the application process before March 31. Now, there are additional steps enrollment navigators and assisters can take to make sure health care consumers are getting the most out of their health coverage: 

  • Enrollment assisters can continue to reach out to consumers who were unable to complete an application before March 31 to help them to complete enrollment
  • Enrollment assisters should also educate consumers about opportunities to enroll if they tried to apply before March 31, or if they may qualify for a special enrollment period due to complicated application issues or a life change. 
  • Organizations that don’t offer application assistance but have access to consumers can partner with enrollment assisters by connecting the consumers to those that can assist them or by providing contact information for the marketplace. 
  • Both assisters and organizations that have opportunities to educate the public should also continue to inform consumers that they can apply for Medicaid or CHIP at any time of the year. 
  • Both assisters and organizations that have opportunities to educate the public should inform consumers about the requirement to have health insurance and how they can file an exemption

Make yourself available to answer questions for consumers, particularly those using health insurance for the first time.

2.  Be prepared to answer questions from consumers about how to use their new health insurance. It is essential that consumers pay their monthly premium, and many of them may need help figuring out how. You can also help consumers set up their first appointment with a primary care provider. For many consumers, this is their first time using health insurance. CMS released information for providers, staff, and people conducting enrollment assistance to use when working with someone new to health insurance

Debrief with your staff about lessons learned in this inaugural open enrollment period 

3.  Conduct a debrief on the successes and challenges of the last six months with your staff and create an action plan for how to put action to lessons learned from the first enrollment period. This is your organization’s opportunity to improve enrollment efforts in time for the next enrollment period. While it’s still fresh in your mind, ask each other what worked well and what you would do differently. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What role did your organization play over the last six months to contribute to more than 7 million people enrolling? Did your organization provide enrollment assistance? How did you spread the word that health coverage is available? 
  • What type of outreach activities brought in the most enrollments? What will you do differently during the next open enrollment period? What will you do again?
  • What kinds of trainings were the most helpful to you (in-person, webinars, etc)? Did you have the training and resources needed to properly assist consumers through the enrollment process? If not, what would have been helpful?
  • How can we best raise awareness about the next open enrollment period using lessons learned from this open enrollment?

Post-enrollment: Putting action to lessons learned and keeping the enrollment momentum going

It was with your help and hard work that more than 7 million people have been able to get health insurance. Let’s work to continue to get more people enrolled, keep them enrolled, and take this time to reflect on what we’ve learned.