#StateOfEnrollment: Connecting Consumers to Local Help DOUBLES Their Odds of Getting Covered

By Zachary Baron

Strategy: Help consumers make an appointment with local help (and help them prepare in advance!)

Where it was used: Nationwide

Notable metrics: Consumers that received local help were twice as likely to successfully enroll as those attempting to enroll without assistance.

Best practices to replicate to maximize enrollment:

  • Show consumers the Get Covered America Locator to help them find local help and make an appointment with an assister.
  • Help consumers fill out a worksheet in advance of their appointment with an in-person assister to make their appointment more efficient (and to maximize the number of consumers an assister can serve).

Across the nation, in-person assistance played a crucial role in helping more than seven million individuals enroll through the marketplaces during the first open enrollment period. Trained and certified experts were available in every state to help consumers learn about their coverage options and enroll. At Enroll America, we experienced the important role of in-person assisters first-hand, both in the field when we connected uninsured consumers to local help and in the digital space, as we connected consumers to local help through our Get Covered America Locator:

Get Covered Locator

We also conducted surveys that underscored the impact of in-person assistance on enrollment. We conducted one such survey in December 2013, and included 3,468 consumers who indicated that they were either uninsured or looking for better coverage and who had tried to sign up for coverage since October 1.

Here’s what we found: Consumers were about twice as likely to successfully enroll if they had in-person assistance. While consumer-friendly online enrollment systems have made it easier than ever for Americans to sign up for coverage, purchasing insurance is complicated and consequential; even savvy consumers value the opportunity to get help.

Furthermore, in-person assistance helps ensure that underserved communities are in the best position to learn about their choices and enroll in coverage. African Americans and Latinos were 43 percent more likely to seek in-person help than their white counterparts. This reinforces the need to make sure that underserved communities have easy access to local help within their communities in order to further streamline the enrollment process.

Of course, like most good things, there isn’t as much in-person help available—or dollars to support it—as would be ideal. That’s why it’s so important that we learn as much as possible from the first open enrollment period about how to maximize the efficiency of the existing assister “workforce” (a term we use loosely, since many assisters are volunteers).

We’ll be working to identify best practices in the months to come, but today we’ll leave you with one simple step: use an intake worksheet—that anyone can help the consumer complete—so that consumers don’t have to spend valuable time during their appointment with an assister doing basic things like creating an email account, choosing a password and security questions, and thinking about what type of plan would be right for them.

Here’s an example from Wisconsin, but the form would need to be customized for each state. And like all consumer enrollment tools, these intake forms should also be available in multiple languages. This simple step will allow the consumer have a smoother experience enrolling when they do meet with an assister, while also helping ensure that assisters have enough time to see everyone who wants help.

So whether consumers have questions about whether they qualify for financial help or what is right health plan for them, the best way to boost their odds of being covered is to refer them to local help and help them prepare for their in-person assistance appointment in advance. Even after consumers have enrolled, in-person assistance will help them stay covered as they experience qualifying events during the year or have to renew coverage.

For more ideas on how to take your outreach and enrollment efforts to the next level in the coming months, register today for our national conference, State of Enrollment: Getting America Covered, in Washington, D.C., June 16-18.

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