#Ready4OE2: 11 Rural Outreach and Enrollment Project Examples from the Rural Assistance Center

By Guest Blogger

As we count down to the start of the second open enrollment period (OE2) on November 15, Enroll America’s #Ready4OE2 blog series will feature a new entry every weekday in October sharing lessons learned from OE1 and strategies for OE2. For more tips and tools, check out the #Ready4OE2 webinar series!

This post was written by Kristine Sande and Maren Niemeier, Rural Assistance Center.

Strategy for OE2: Follow the examples of rural health care organizations that undertook successful outreach and education initiatives during OE1.

Where and when it was used: In 10 states during OE1.

How it worked:

Rural populations can be difficult to reach when it comes to outreach and enrollment. In some communities, rural health care providers and their partners have taken matters into their own hands in providing information and assistance about health insurance options to their patients and communities.

The Rural Assistance Center has published a set of 11 rural outreach and enrollment projects undertaken during the first enrollment period (OE1) by Critical Access Hospitals, community health centers, public health departments, and other organizations, helping rural residents from California to New England. Ten of the 11 featured projects were undertaken by Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Care Outreach grantees, who received supplemental funding for this work.

Services offered through the projects included enrollment assistance from Certified Application Counselors (CACs), bilingual outreach, online Affordable Care Act (ACA) training for health care providers, and more. These rural organizations leveraged their existing networks and activities, either training current staff or hiring up, to meet the needs of their patients and communities. As a whole, the projects provided enrollment information to thousands of rural residents and helped hundreds get enrolled. Each project description includes an overview of the services provided, successful strategies for reaching rural audiences, barriers encountered, and suggestions for the next enrollment period (OE2).

Learn more about the individual ACA outreach and education projects and their results:

Best practices from these projects to replicate for OE2:

  • Start early and be completely ready before the enrollment period opens.
  • Seek out opportunities for partnerships and collaboration.
  • Use existing network and ongoing events.
  • Make time for one-on-one conversations with individuals to explain the basics of health insurance coverage.
  • Anticipate and address local concerns, such as:
    • Eligibility questions from border populations.
    • Assistance for individuals with limited computer skills and access.
    • In states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, options for people falling into the coverage gap.
  • Follow up with individuals.

These examples are featured in the Rural Assistance Center’s Rural Health Models and Innovations Hub. RAC also welcomes additional rural ACA outreach project examples. Please contact Maren Niemeier at maren@raconline.org or 701-777-8001 to share information about your project.

The Rural Assistance Center also features additional information for rural providers on Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment, including frequently asked questions, resources, funding opportunities, news, and events.

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