The Silver Bullet Message to Reach the Remaining Uninsured? Try Dialogue Instead

By Zachary Baron

The enrollment community has made significant progress over the last few years connecting the uninsured to coverage. It is a testament to the hard work of enrollment stakeholders that the same proportion of Americans that wear seat belts when driving now have health insurance (90 percent!). And the vast majority of those newly insured through the marketplace and Medicaid are satisfied with their coverage.

But with millions of consumers remaining uninsured, there’s still much more work to be done (and we’ll leave it to others to make progress on seat belt usage!). Results from a recent survey conducted by PerryUndem and GMMB, and commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), highlight opportunities to effectively deploy proven outreach and education strategies as well as easy-to-understand messages when engaging uninsured consumers.

The new survey shows that many have still not looked at their new coverage options through the marketplace — almost 6 in 10 uninsured Americans report that they have not yet gone to the marketplace or are unsure if they have gone or not (some of whom likely fall into the Medicaid “coverage gap”). As Enroll America has seen in previous surveys we’ve conducted, the primary reason consumers claim not to have signed up is that they believe health insurance is unaffordable. Notably however, 59 percent of respondents in this new RWJF survey who report that they “can’t afford” health insurance do not understand or have not heard of the tax credit that provides financial help to marketplace enrollees.

As we get closer to the third open enrollment period (OE3), the landscape is different from the first two open enrollment periods. Thanks to the efforts of the enrollment community, there are fewer uninsured Americans to reach, but they are still likely to value insurance and be motivated by messages about financial help. But rather than seeking a single “silver bullet” message to reach the remaining uninsured, this new research suggests engaging in one-on-one dialogue is going to be increasingly important to move those consumers to action.

That’s why it will be critical for the enrollment community to seize this opportunity and tailor its messaging in order to best respond to common concerns of the remaining uninsured. These findings reinforce what Enroll America has long understood — it’s our job to explain the facts about how consumers can benefit from new coverage options and financial assistance. And to do so successfully, we will keep adapting to best respond to consumer needs.

Here are some tips when facing common questions to help continue the dialogue effectively:

  • Q: What’s the deal with Obamacare? I still don’t have coverage and I don’t think I’ve ever even been to a marketplace.
  • A: The Health Insurance Marketplace is a new way to find health insurance. It offers quality health plans and financial help with the cost of your health insurance. To see how much financial help you could receive, use the Calculator available at GetCoveredAmerica.org/Calculator.
  • Q: I checked out some prices once for plans on HealthCare.gov, but it all seemed pretty overwhelming to me. I’m paying out of pocket for some prescriptions. However, I’m on the fence about whether buying insurance makes the most sense.
  • A: More than 4 out of 5 marketplace enrollees receive financial help. You might qualify for a tax credit to lower your monthly costs and every plan covers prescriptions. And don’t worry if you’re overwhelmed: The Get Covered Connector can help you schedule an appointment for free in-person local help if you have questions about applying for health insurance.

To learn more about furthering the dialogue with uninsured consumers, check out our Get Covered Communicators Program. We hold monthly messaging calls and send weekly email updates to keep communicators current on talking points relating to enrollment opportunities, challenges, and key dates ahead. You can find our latest Communicator guide here, and if you want to become an expert yourself, sign up today for the program!

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