How Is the Michigan Primary Care Association Helping Consumers Stay Covered? Innovative Renewal Strategies From the Great Lakes State

By Zachary Baron

Now that millions more Americans are enrolled in health coverage, the enrollment community must remain focused to create a permanent culture of coverage. While that means continuing the dialogue with the uninsured, it also entails a robust commitment to help consumers maintain their coverage throughout the year, and when it comes time to renew. And at Enroll America we’re eager to continue our efforts emphasizing the importance of consumers actively engaging in the renewal process in collaboration with our many partners across the country.

Even with limited resources, partners such as the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) have developed a range of strategies that enrollment stakeholders can adopt to assist consumers in maintaining their coverage.

Just as important as overarching messages to reach consumers, concerted outreach efforts remain crucial to help consumers stay covered from year to year. The MPCA has already done tremendous work to design tools, resources, and an all-inclusive outreach campaign to better engage consumers about the renewal process for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the marketplace. At our State of Enrollment Conference in June, experts from MPCA shared their strategies and results from their work.

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MPCA staff Julie Tatko and Lydia Starrs talked about several different ways they are helping their clients get covered and stay covered:

  • MPCA created, an interactive web-based resource that delivers customized content and downloadable worksheets to help consumers better understand coverage options and use their benefits to improve their health. And when providing in-person assistance, MPCA Navigators or CACs used enrollment worksheets to better prepare consumers for the renewal process by highlighting its significance and the relevant dates when consumers would have to take action.
  • Additionally, MPCA ran an impressive text- and voice-messaging outreach campaign specifically directed at helping children maintain Medicaid and CHIP, and people reached by the campaign outperformed the rest of the state in retention by 8 percent. Understanding that more than 90 percent of adults own a cell phone, MPCA sends text messages to parents (with appropriate opportunities for consumers to opt out) with information about the renewal process or where they can call to get more help. Their clients also receive an automated voice message near the end of their coverage year to help connect consumers to their health center for assistance with completing renewal.

You may be thinking that all this sounds too expensive or complicated to set up. Fortunately, MPCA also shared free or low-cost resources that can help organizations implement these strategies. Some of these include:

  • Piktochart: An online infographic creator with discounts for non-profits and certain free templates.
  • Facebook: A social media site you can post on to encourage consumers to take action to re-enroll. And you can “tag” other organizations that serve your community so that more people see the posts in their Facebook Newsfeeds.
  • Call Fire: A text and voice mass messaging system with pay-as-you-go and monthly pricing options.

The renewal process may be new for many (both consumers and the wider enrollment community), but it is critical that enrollment stakeholders invest their energy on efforts to help boost retention. We look forward to lifting up other effective renewal strategies that partner organizations carry out in the coming months!

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