This post originally appeared on the blog of Feeding America.
The deadline for Americans to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act is less than a week away (February 15, 2015), but there are still ways to help ensure communities get the right information they need to sign up. According to the Hunger in America 2014 study, Feeding America serves more than 46 million Americans, including nearly 12 million children who struggle to get enough to eat. Food and health insecurity are closely connected, and we all have a role to play in ensuring people not only get food to eat, but also have the ability to live active, healthy lives. Having health insurance is critical for a person to do just that. Here are three things you can do to help people get covered through the Affordable Care Act and stay covered:
1. Share important messages — everywhere you can. We know people are busy and receive a myriad of messages throughout the day, so the goal is to cut through the clutter and ensure they get the facts from people they trust. The majority of people get their information about the Affordable Care Act from trusted messengers and local news. That means you can share key messages that include the February 15 deadline, the fact that financial assistance is available, and tools they can use to find in-person help. Share them on social media, include them in an email or print newsletter, or pen an op-ed with the key facts – it’s all worth it.
2. Collaborate with community partners and build a referral system. Chances are there are agencies, faith leaders, schools, or individuals in your community already organizing events with on-site enrollment. Partner with those community organizations by offering to promote enrollment events through existing services — such as distributing flyers at food distribution sites or hosting enrollment events at similar locations. Of those households served by the Feeding America network, 66 percent noted having to choose between food and medical care. Maximizing existing services helps build holistic assistance.
3. Help people schedule an appointment with in-person help. Without a doubt, one of the clearest indicators for successful enrollment is in-person help. Although the application is available online, people enrolling for the first time who got in-person help were nearly twice as likely to successfully enroll in health coverage as those who attempted to enroll alone. Now, the Get Covered Connector makes it easy for people to find local help in their area and make a free appointment with a trained and certified in-person assister. Organizations can ensure staff or volunteers know how to use the tool during the intake process and outreach events, and they can have the scheduling widget available on their website.
These are just a few ways we can work together to ensure communities that stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act have the peace of mind that affordable health coverage brings. Do one or all of these before the February 15 deadline to enroll through the marketplace.