Getting the Right Message: Ohio Stakeholders Brainstorm Successful Health Coverage Communications Strategies

By Ani Fete

Ohio claims to be the “Heart of it All,” and I tend to agree (Disclaimer: I am an utterly biased Ohioan). Whether it’s due to the election season or the college basketball season, the Buckeye State seems to be at the heart of public dialogue a lot these days. And while I certainly hope my Buckeyes make it all the way during March Madness (OH-IO!), there is another exciting development in Ohio worth cheering about—an important effort between public and private stakeholders to coordinate the development and distribution of effective enrollment messages for consumers.

On Friday of last week, Enroll America partnered with Ohio Children in the Vanguard, a project of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), to host “Getting the Right Message,” a forum on improving health insurance coverage communications and messaging across the state. Ohio policy makers are still deciding how and if the state will establish a health insurance exchange, but that is not stopping Ohio stakeholders from planning ways to improve outreach and messaging for both existing and future coverage options.  

The event opened with a presentation from Ohio Medicaid Director, John McCarthy, who shared his commitment to building a collaborative environment for messaging around health coverage and the importance of leveraging resources to get the word out to Ohioans. Here are a few highlights from the day:

  • Research conducted by Triad Research Group shows that Ohio parents frequently viewed health insurance as “very important,” which strongly suggests it will be possible to engage parents’ interest in coverage expansions.
  • According to research by Consumers Union, consumers do not understand health insurance, and consumer testing is critical to determine the usefulness of health insurance disclosures.
  • A case study of the Oregon Healthy Kids Program demonstrated the importance of establishing a broad and diverse group of partners to coordinate communications and leverage networks to ensure that an effectively developed message actually reaches consumers.

In between presentations, attendees brainstormed how their respective organizations can continue to share resources and use the best practices and research presented during the day to inform Ohio-specific messages and strategies. They also committed to continuing this dialogue through ongoing meetings and discussions. As a first step, the group plans to identify existing consumer research and conduct additional focus groups to develop more effective health coverage messages for specific populations. Stay tuned with Enroll America as we follow Ohio’s progress in this effort!

Presentations from Lynn Quincy of Consumers Union, former Oregon Healthy Kids Outreach Manager Jessica Kendall, Triad Research Group, Enroll America, and others can be found on the Voices for Ohio’s Children website.

A special thanks to Amy Swanson and Sandy Oxley with Voices for Ohio’s Children for reviewing and contributing to this blog post.

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