As we near the end of the third open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, navigators and assisters are rightly focused on signing up as many people as they can for marketplace coverage. At the same time, many are also putting more time and energy into a crucial element of an effective enrollment program: follow-up with consumers who are already enrolled.
A weight is lifted for Sudan, a bodybuilder, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace insurance.
Sudan works as a personal trainer for members of the military and their families at an air force base in Georgia. She loves helping people get in shape and stay healthy, but for many years, Sudan felt that her own health was at risk.
Legislative sessions during an election year are historically shorter, more budget-oriented and less controversial than other years. But as the Obama administration enters its final year, the Affordable Care Act and the tools it provides for increasing health coverage are on the agenda as state lawmakers return to the capitol this month.
In early January, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced its first program focused on addressing a patient’s social needs. This 5-year, $157 million pilot program, called Accountable Health Communities, will try to bridge the gap between clinical and social services, testing whether addressing these needs can improve health, lower costs, and improve quality for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Last month, HHS and the Department of the Treasury issued new guidance on state innovation waivers that includes stronger protections for low-income and vulnerable consumers. We believe many of its provisions should be added to federal rules.
There are lots of professional networking groups out there for young people, but Families USA’s Emerging Professionals group centers specifically on the health policy and advocacy fields and doesn’t define its membership based on age. Instead, the group exists to unite those starting out in their careers, provide a space for collaboration and career advice, and support one another in their health advocacy efforts. In less than a year, the group has grown from 50 to 350 members.
While the few months of open enrollment are typically what most people think of when they think about marketplace health coverage, the truth is that enrollment happens all year long. Between helping consumers sign up for coverage when they experience certain life changes, enrolling people in Medicaid, and trying to educate the public about the Affordable Care Act, enrollment assisters are busy 365 days a year.
A new report released last week confirms the findings that enrollment experts emphasized on our teleconference with reporters last Wednesday: We still have a ways to go in getting “hard-to-reach” populations enrolled in health coverage.
Last July, four insurance giants announced proposed mergers. Anthem is proposing to purchase Cigna, and Aetna to purchase Humana. A merged Anthem-Cigna would cover 53 million people, and a merged Aetna-Humana would cover more than 33 million people. Together, these merged companies, along with United Health Group’s approximately 46 million insured consumers, would concentrate the coverage of 132 million lives in just three companies.
Communities of color have long struggled with health disparities when it comes to the prevalence and outcomes of many conditions compared to non-Hispanic whites. This means that not only are these communities more likely to have conditions like diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers, they are also more likely to be sicker and even die from them. While there are many factors that determine someone’s health status, access to care—especially preventive services—is critical to narrowing the health disparities gap for some conditions that disproportionately burden communities of color.