So You’ve Been Helping Consumers with Paper Applications. Now What?

By Liz Hagan

Dayanne Leal contributed to writing this post.

Last week was a good week for consumers seeking coverage through The site is working a lot better and more and more people have been able to get through the application and enrollment process!

Many of the assisters we’ve talked to in federally facilitated marketplace (FFM) states have told us that—until recently—consumers have been relying on the paper application due to the issues with the website and some consumers have not yet heard back about their application. So, the questions are:

  1. How do you follow up with consumers to make sure they are getting through the enrollment process if they applied with a paper application?
  2. What do organizations do if they encounter an individual who still wants to use the paper application even though the website is a viable option?

As we noted in a blog post earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a tip sheet to answer these types of questions.

For consumers who have already applied on paper, reach back out to them if you received their consent to follow-up. For a number of different reasons, many consumers who applied via paper haven’t heard what kind of coverage they are eligible for yet and hearing from you will help clarify the next steps in the enrollment process.

  • Reach out and inform consumers who have submitted a paper application and are still waiting to hear about next steps to call 1-(800)-318-2596. This is how to find out if a paper application has been processed. If the application has been reviewed, the call center will provide the consumer with an application ID number. The consumer can then create an account on and log on to see their application and what type of coverage they can get in their state—either Medicaid or private coverage through the health insurance marketplace— and whether financial help is available. Millions of Americans will be able to get financial help through the health insurance marketplaces based on their income.
  • Make yourself available to consumers. They will likely have questions about next steps and looking for in-person assistance to complete the enrollment process once they have received their application ID number from the call center. Remember that applying for coverage is only the first step; enrolling is the second.
  • Remember there is still time for these consumers to enroll in coverage that will begin January 1!

How can you reach out to consumers who have submitted a paper application?

If you have consumer contact information and permission to contact them, think about engaging staff and volunteers to do a phone bank.

To reach other consumers who have submitted a paper application, consider:

  • Reaching out to your local radio program or local newspaper to advertise how consumers can find local help with the application and enrollment process.
  • Contacting the organizations that initially helped you reach out to these consumers and other partner organizations to help spread the word about the importance of finishing the enrollment process.
  • Engaging the faith leaders you work with and ask them to make an announcement at their next service.

Some consumers still want to apply via paper, so know how to best help them. Consumers have many choices on how to apply for and enroll in coverage (in-person, on paper, online, or over the phone) and consumers all have different preferences. Though CMS is highly encouraging the use of an online application over a paper application, assisters need to consider consumers’ preferences. What’s important is that these consumers successfully enroll in coverage. For those consumers still wanting to apply via paper, make sure to follow up and offer to help them select health coverage and complete the enrollment process.

Engagement with a consumer doesn’t stop when that consumer leaves their appointment. For most consumers, becoming enrolled in coverage will require more than one step. It’s critical that consumers have the help they need at each step along the way.


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