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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ready, Set, Enroll: Key Resources for Assisters to Keep at Their Fingertips

Jessica Kendall

Director of State Partnerships

Heather Bates

Director of Community Engagement

Across the country, enrollment assisters on the front lines are getting ready to help the uninsured enroll in health insurance and help people with health insurance renew their coverage. To be as efficient and effective as possible in this important work, assisters require dozens of resources at their fingertips. We have compiled some of the best resources that are essential to help enrollment assisters do their jobs. 

Before the appointment 

Outreach: When doing outreach, there are many places to look for tips tricks and ideas. Enroll America has a lot of great materials, including resources about how to:

Tip: Bookmark these resources in your web browser so you can have them on “speed dial” for open enrollment. Also check out the Enrollment Assister Resource Center for more.

Data maps: Enroll America also produces user-friendly maps showing data on marketplace enrollment to aid in outreach. The maps show local changes in the uninsured rate, county-level marketplace enrollment, and where in-person assisters are located in relation to uninsured consumers.

Health insurance literacy: Most assisters know that they can’t underestimate the importance of health insurance literacy in helping consumers make informed decisions about renewing and choosing the right health plan. Fortunately, more educational materials are available this year than ever before:

  • Enroll America’s comprehensive health insurance literacy hub is chock full of local, state, and national resources for educating consumers about basic health insurance concepts. 
  • Families USA and the National Council of La Raza created this handy brochure that assisters can print. It describes some of the common terms used in health insurance.  

Working with the media: To spread the word that coverage is available, working with the press and sharing consumer stories (with their consent of course) is a wonderful way to reach people. For guidance about working effectively with the press, check out our webinar, “Cutting through the Static: Media Tips for Assisters to Get Your Message Heard,” and print these 10 tips to remember when participating in a media interview. 

Training for assisters: Whether you’re new to the job or just want a refresher on some basic concepts, it’s helpful to know what training resources are available. If your state uses healthcare.gov to enroll consumers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also compiled last year’s trainings and resources all in one convenient place which can be helpful for getting a lay of the land. 

As we mentioned in last week’s blog, assisters should keep this “Stop, Shop, and Enroll” infographic nearby to motivate consumers to set up an appointment. 

During the appointment

Organizing your appointment: This webinar, “Preparing for Open Enrollment 2016: Making the Most of an Enrollment Appointment,” covers a range of topics, such as which printed materials to keep on hand, facilitating the enrollment conversation, and building a relationship with the consumer. It also explains the steps involved in completing an enrollment, including tips for setting up your enrollment desk. 

Considerations for consumers: Educating consumers about the costs associated with having health insurance and how much financial help is available comprise a large part of the enrollment appointment. Additionally, some consumers may be able to get an exemption from enrolling in coverage, while others should carefully weigh their options between employer and marketplace coverage. We produced this helpful summary to highlight some of those fundamental considerations. 

Helping consumers choose a plan: Organizing plan information to help consumers make these important decisions sometimes requires extra steps. Plans on the marketplace are somewhat standardized through “metal levels,” or tiers, which serve to group similar plans together. These metal levels create cost-sharing and coverage tiers among health insurance plan options. Consumers often have trouble understanding the metal levels. These resources can help:

After the appointment 

As we all know, completing the application doesn’t mean that consumers know how to use their insurance. Going from coverage to care is a process. HHS has produced “Coverage to Care” materials which describe the stages of getting covered. 

After the application is submitted, there are next steps that consumers must take. Families USA created follow-up information that assisters can use with consumers to help them take these steps:

Taking care of yourself: As we gear up for another successful open enrollment period, we know that many enrollment assisters are the sole person at their organization (or even in their communities) who focus on helping consumers sign up for health coverage. It is important to recognize how isolating this can be, as these assisters may not have colleagues to turn to for support. Please know that Families USA is here for you as a resource. We recommend reviewing our tips for helping assisters thrive offered by our partners in a recent webinar about how they foster a supportive environment.