Takeaways from #SOE2014: Outreach Tips from One State-Based Marketplace to Another

By Guest Blogger

This post was written by Heather Beauvais, Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator at East Bay Community Action Program in Rhode Island.

Attending the State of Enrollment conference was an amazing and educational experience. It was wonderful to be with others who had gone through the trials and tribulations, successes and struggles of the biggest health care initiative this nation has ever seen.

Being from a state-based marketplace (SBM), I was drawn to a plenary speaker from another SBM, Myung Oak Kim, Connect for Health Colorado’s chief marketing officer.  She spoke during the “Messaging to Consumers: What Worked and How to Break Through the Clutter Next Time” plenary (you can watch recordings of the five plenary sessions here).

Rhode Island’s marketplace, Health Source RI (HSRI), was very successful during open enrollment, connecting 28,485 individuals to marketplace coverage and 64,590 to Medicaid — largely due to outreach efforts from HSRI and its partners. But I was still impressed by how Colorado’s campaign constantly evolved to keep Coloradoans informed with clear, direct, culturally sensitive, and practical messages and that a core piece of their strategy was to reach consumers through grassroots outreach.

Here are a few enrollment strategies highlighted by Myung Oak Kim that I think are key for any marketplace:

  • Employing culturally sensitive messaging to reach the Latino communities, and strategically placing messaging to meet consumers where they are. For example, HSRI’s website is available in English and Spanish and offers informational flyers in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
  • Having a television ad campaign that resonates with the population. Colorado featured messages on affordability and how having health insurance can save lives.Rhode Island’s outreach efforts focused on the opportunity to have health care with the tag line “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Healthcare” and ”Your Health, Your Way” that continued throughout open enrollment
  • Engaging consumers face-to-face. A small camper was driven around Colorado to reach residents off the beaten path. I think face-to-face outreach is the best way to get the facts to people. By being present at the grassroots level, Connect for Health was able to organize enrollment events that allowed for in-person help with education and enrollment.

Similarly, a Rhode Island outreach entity, The Providence Plan, did extensive on-the-ground outreach at farmers markets in their 39 in 3 campaign (events held in 39 cities over three months) to provide information about the ACA and HSRI. The Providence Plan was instrumental in organizing outreach events such as informational workshops and drop-in sessions at local libraries throughout the state where Rhode Islanders were able to get their questions answered and have in-person support with enrolling in health insurance.

I have shared best practices, lessons learned, and other great takeaways from #SOE2014 with my fellow Navigator entities in RI. I know as a state we will continue to work together to reach all uninsured Rhode Islanders with information on the availability and benefits of health insurance. The conference was truly an awesome experience and I am looking forward to next year!

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