#Ready4OE2: Getting the Word Out to the Farming Community Through Partnerships

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 Devon Ayers, former Outreach & Education Manager with Vermont’s health insurance marketplace, Vermont Health Connect.

Strategy for OE2: Engage state agriculture groups to get the word out about health coverage options.

When and where it was used: Vermont during OE1.

Notable metrics: Engaged every wide-reaching agriculture group in the state.

How it worked:

Farming is an important part of Vermont’s culture and identity, and farmers have historically been uninsured or underinsured, so making sure they had access to health coverage was a priority during the OE1 — and will remain a priority for Vermont Health Connect for OE2.

The farming community is tight-knit, and we knew we would need to team up with trusted messengers to meet farmers where they already were with the facts they would need. By engaging the right gatekeepers, we could connect with every major agriculture group in the state.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture: The agency began including Vermont Health Connect updates in their producer newsletters to answer specific questions they were getting in the field regarding health coverage. They also facilitated our connections with others in the agriculture community, including the Intervale Center, which invited us to come and meet some of Burlington’s organic fruit and vegetable farmers on their turf.

University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Farm program: In addition to the research they do, the UVM Extension provides technical assistance to farmers, which meant they were well positioned to help us promote enrollment events and distribute educational information.

Agriculture associations: We worked with the UVM Extension program, a coordinator from the Farm to Plate Network, and a representative from the Agency of Agriculture to reach out to agricultural associations. During the final month of open enrollment, we had representatives at the Vermont Farm Show (a major expo attended by a majority of farmers in Vermont), the Fruit Tree Growers Association, the Organic Dairy Association, and the Northeast Organic Farm Association. We continue to present information at association meetings to empower them to spread the word to farmers.

A Navigator from a local chamber of commerce: Together, we developed a resource packet to speak to the needs of farmers and those that serve them. We were able to access the Navigator’s connections and set up agricultural producer enrollment events in the counties that had the greatest concentration of farmers.

Best practices to replicate for OE2:

  • Having professionals that farmers trust spread the word was our key to success, and will be a core component of our outreach strategy for OE2.
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