‘Renovating the House’ in Massachusetts: Strategies to Continue Outreach and Education

By Guest Blogger

This blog post was written by Ari Fertig, Information and Marketing Coordinator at Health Care For All.

When we talk with folks around the country about Massachusetts health reform, we’re proud to boast that over 97 percent of our residents—and 99.8 percent of children in the state—have health insurance. Sometimes, many people think that Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation must not mean much here since we had our own health reform back in 2006 — but that is not really the case.

Implementing the ACA here in Massachusetts requires a lot of outreach and education—people need to know how things will be changing. The analogy we like to make is that we’re renovating a house, rather than building the house from the ground up—so there are bound to be some challenges.

In partnership with the Health Connector—the Massachusetts Marketplace or “exchange”—and local community organizations across the Commonwealth, Health Care For All launched a public education campaign targeted to individuals, families and small businesses—paying special attention to the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities—about the affordable health insurance options available in Massachusetts.

There’s a lot for Massachusetts consumers to know. People who were not on subsidized health coverage before may be eligible now for MassHealth, our Medicaid program, thanks to the Medicaid expansion. There are new dental options available on the Health Connector. Small businesses qualify for new tax credits. More people will be eligible to get help paying for health insurance. The Marketplace will offer more health plan options for residents.

We still have work to do to make sure that residents in Massachusetts know about their options. So here’s our grassroots approach:

  • We’re launching a door-to-door canvassing effort to knock on 40,000 doors across Massachusetts.
  • We’re reaching out to 1,000 minority-owned small businesses to talk with them about their health care options under the ACA.
  • We’re distributing door hangers, brochures, and other materials to make sure individuals and families know about their health care options and have updated information—this will help us enroll the uninsured.
  • We’re working with regional partners from cities like Worcester (the second-largest city in New England) to small towns to make sure that even in places where there are no navigators or other kinds of in-person assistance available, people know about their health coverage options.

But we know that we need both a bottom-up and a top-down approach to reach everybody. So we placed advertisements in ethnic media outlets across the state and engaged with key stakeholders garnering a number of front page media stories in newspapers and magazines.

Health Care For All’s HelpLine has already seen a significant uptick in the number of consumers calling to request our assistance due to these efforts. Our HelpLine is a free service that can answer any Massachusetts resident’s questions about health insurance and connect people with public programs. You can call our HelpLine at 1-800-272-4232.

Interested in learning more? Check out our blog post about our launch here. Want to get involved? Let us know.

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