Three States Share Their Keys to Enrollment Success at #SOE2014

By Molly Warren

At our State of Enrollment conference earlier this month, the workshop “Keys to Enrollment Success: Leading States Speak Out” brought together leaders from Florida, Idaho, and Vermont. These three states had diverse marketplace structures, political climates, geography, and demographics, but one shared trait: high marketplace enrollment. While each marketplace was unique, there were a few shared themes that the states linked to their success:

  1. Use of consumer surveys and research.  While it took significant time and resources upfront to gather the information, state marketplaces and stakeholders conducted surveys and consumer research to better understand which populations could benefit from the new health coverage options, what messages resonated best (and which did not!), and what kinds of resources and assistance consumers needed to successfully enroll. In turn, the marketplaces and stakeholders were able to tailor their efforts and make smarter decisions about how to use their time and resources.
  1. Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships! Working with the people and organizations in each community who can contribute to outreach and enrollment efforts increased marketplace and stakeholders’ reach. Depending on their role in the community and the resources they had access to, partners contributed in diverse ways. Some were trusted messengers and could get the word out, others had space or resources (computer labs!) they could provide for enrollment events or sharing materials, and others had personnel with expertise to assist consumers applying for coverage.
  1. Can’t beat person-to-person interaction. Each state stressed the importance of their “ground game” of direct outreach and application assistance for consumers. The type of organization providing in-person assistance varied by state and situation — from marketplace staff to community partners, in-person assisters, insurance agents and brokers, and Enroll America staff and volunteers — but having someone accessible to answer questions and either provide application assistance or connect consumers to someone who could was crucial. Here at Enroll America, we found that consumers who received local help were twice as likely to successfully enroll as those attempting to enroll without assistance.
  1. Finding the right channel. Our speakers mentioned numerous avenues for getting the word out to consumers (including earned media, social media, advertising, direct individual outreach through phone, email, mail, and canvassing, community outreach events, and partnerships with elected officials and other trusted community messengers). The key, though, was finding what channel was most appropriate for the population in focus. Some channels were more universal — individual outreach through mail, phone, or email worked well in all three states. However, successful media outreach varied: PBS proved particularly useful in Idaho, radio spots were most successful in Vermont, and earned media worked best in Florida.
  1. Overcoming obstacles: Every state had its particular struggles to overcome, from limited resources to IT issues, political opposition, and unfavorable media coverage. Florida, Idaho, and Vermont were able to persevere, despite these issues, through creative workarounds and flexibility to change plans as circumstances evolve.

For more lessons from this workshop, check out the speakers’ presentations here!

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