A Better Way to Save Money than Robbing Banks

By Guest Blogger

The infamous bank robber Willie Sutton said that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” When it comes to planning outreach strategies to enroll the uninsured in health coverage, it makes sense to apply some of the same logic. Our goal is to enroll the uninsured, so we need to go where the uninsured are. One sure-fire place to find uninsured Americans is in health centers.

Today, we’re releasing two issue briefs on why and how health centers can get involved in outreach and enrollment.

Why?

Health centers served 7.2 million uninsured patients in 2011, and one in three health center patients is uninsured. Most of these people will be eligible for Medicaid or coverage through a health insurance exchange starting in 2014, and health centers will need to be one of the central players in states’ outreach and enrollment efforts.

Getting these folks covered will also help health centers’ bottom lines. Health centers receive nearly $500 more in annual per-patient revenue for a patient who is enrolled in Medicaid than for one who is uninsured. Enrolling all eligible patients in Medicaid or exchange coverage will help ensure that health centers can continue their mission of providing care to everyone who comes through their doors.

For more about why health centers should be involved, check out Health Centers’ Important Role in Outreach and Enrollment.

How?

Health centers have been active players in getting children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but with huge coverage expansions coming in less than a year and a half, it’s time to gear up for even more robust outreach efforts. Drawing on experiences from health centers and primary care associations in Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Washington, we lay out five ways health centers can make the biggest impact on enrollment:

  1. Invest in outreach staff.
  2. Make technology work for you (without spending a fortune).
  3. Recognize everyone’s role in outreach.
  4. Hold on to what you’ve got.
  5. Seek resources to ensure sustainability.

 For more about how health centers can get involved, check out Best Practices in Outreach and Enrollment for Health Centers.

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