If you make a list in your head of organizations that are interested in getting people signed up for health insurance — maybe because you’re looking for new partners — colleges and universities might not be the first that come to mind.
But as pillars of their communities, higher education institutions have been major forces for outreach and enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. After all, they have a built-in interest in connecting their students to health coverage. Out of students who started but didn’t finish their degrees, nearly 70 percent said that having health insurance would have helped them “a lot” towards getting to graduation. And community colleges in particular serve students who are more likely to be uninsured, making them natural partners in outreach and enrollment.
Here’s one example of a higher education institution taking leadership: Miami Dade College (MDC), which has partnered with us in South Florida ever since fall 2013, when the health insurance marketplaces launched, to make sure students know how to get covered and stay covered.
“From spreading the word about the options available, to providing on-campus enrollment assistance, higher education institutions like MDC are critical allies in the enrollment effort,” said Enroll America President Anne Filipic.
For the past two years, MDC has hosted enrollment events with assisters and promoted those events for students and community members. This past year, MDC offered over 1,800 “office hours” in several different campuses, where assisters could take walk-in appointments and answer questions about applying for coverage. With less than 50 days until the third open enrollment period starts, our team in Florida is gearing up with MDC to provide even more enrollment information this year and expand those office hours to more locations.
“Enroll America has been a great partner helping students understand the enrollment application process — an essential first step to quality affordable health coverage,” said Joe Pena, Director of Federal Relations in MDC’s Office of the College President.
MDC’s success points to a lesson for anyone interested in outreach and enrollment: Even if an organization doesn’t work directly on health care or coverage, they can still play a major role. You can approach that potential partner who you worry might not be interested. And you can make an impact even if your organization isn’t focused on health care.
Here are some resources that can help, related to higher education institutions:
- Working With Community Colleges (focuses on MDC and replicable best practices from their outreach and enrollment)
Every month this summer, we wrote about a “#GetCovered Champion” — an organization that’s gone above and beyond to connect its community to health coverage. Read about Michigan Works!, the NC Farmworkers Project, and Columbus Public Health.