Enroll America’s State Site Visits: Key Takeaways for Future Outreach and Enrollment

By Liz Hagan

Enroll America’s Best Practices Institute focuses on finding and elevating state and federal policies that make enrolling in coverage as easy as possible for consumers. Learning from stakeholders about how to resolve problems that consumers, assisters, and states encounter remains instrumental to our enrollment efforts.

In each state, we met with consumer groups, organizations, and state officials working on Medicaid and marketplace policies and processes. We also met with enrollment assisters, outreach groups, health plans, primary care associations, and hospital associations.

We have been working to increase enrollment in the marketplace before the March 31 deadline and in Medicaid year-round. We’re also beginning to plan for the next annual open enrollment period in November 2014. As we do all this, we’d like to share some of our key findings from these states:

Arkansas: Simplified Enrollment Strategies Work

Arkansas has a partnership marketplace and has expanded Medicaid through the Medicaid private coverage option.

Arkansas is one of six states that have benefited from implementing a simplified enrollment strategy that involves identifying individuals and families eligible for Medicaid based on their enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). In October, the state sent letters to 154,000 SNAP households about their option to enroll in Medicaid by simply signing and returning the letter. As we pointed out here and here, the state received an incredibly high response rate of about 43%. By using this approach, the state cut its uninsured rate by about 14 percent in just one month.

This enrollment strategy has seen similar successes in the other states, and we hope that many more states will also take advantage of this great opportunity.

Arizona and Wisconsin: Collaboration is Key  

Arizona and Wisconsin both have federally facilitated marketplaces, but only Arizona has expanded Medicaid. In both states, we saw organizations collaborating with partners on outreach, education, and application and enrollment assistance. Strong partnerships allowed these organizations to identify the needs of their population and develop programs and strategies to increase enrollment.

Arizona’s statewide coalition, Cover Arizona, has been focusing on mobilizing organizations that work on outreach and education. As we highlighted in November, Cover Arizona has attributed a large part of their success to having a neutral convener and the ability to bring a range of stakeholders to the table that have different strengths and resources. Their approach has allowed the coalition to focus on its mission: informing Arizonans of their new health coverage options. Since we visited, they have continued to share and create great educational resources, outreach tools, and events.

Stakeholders in Wisconsin, facing a number of challenges, created twelve “Regional Enrollment Networks” throughout the state. The state’s collaborative approach has garnered support from Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services and countless organizations across the state. The enrollment networks ensure that consumers have the help they need to learn about their coverage options, access application and enrollment assistance, and find out about how to use their health insurance. Since their creation, the networks have been a great resource for partners in Wisconsin. Our November blog post and issue brief delve into the specifics of their approach.

Many states and communities throughout the country have also been working in similar ways to convene partners. We are encouraged to see this meaningful collaboration and hope to see more of it in the coming months.

Washington: Planning is Essential

Washington, which has a state-based marketplace and Medicaid expansion, offered a unique perspective. As our blog post from December showed, Washington’s marketplace, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, is a leader among state-based marketplaces. As of February 2014, about 18 percent of the eligible population had enrolled in health coverage, which compares to a national average of about 12 percent. During our site visit, we learned that the state had ample time to plan the rollout of its marketplace, which is likely contributing to their success to-date. The extra time allowed them to create a robust outreach campaign and thoughtful processes.

In Moving Forward, Keep Enrollment Strategies Simple, Collaborative, and Well-Planned

When gearing up for the second open enrollment period and ongoing enrollment for Medicaid, remember to:

  • Look for ways to simplify enrollment for consumers
  • Collaborate with enrollment stakeholders
  • Plan as much as possible while remaining flexible

Feel free to reach out to us directly for additional tips, and stay tuned for lessons learned from our next round of site visits this spring and summer!

Enroll America Menu
Are you looking for affordable health insurance? GetCoveredAmerica.org