This post was originally published on the Feeding America blog.
Healthy food lays the foundation for good health. But when money is tight, too many families — two-thirds of the households served by the Feeding America network — face hard choices between paying for medical care and putting food on the table.
Here’s the good news: This month, we can put a real dent in that statistic by connecting people to quality, affordable health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The last day of open enrollment is January 31. That’s right around the corner! Before the deadline, here are three ways to help make sure as many people as possible get covered and stay covered.
1. Share the facts that people need to know. Before people will take action to explore their options and get covered, they need to know a few key pieces of information. First, they need to know that financial help is available to lower the costs of health insurance. They need to know that the last day to sign up in the health insurance marketplace for 2016 is January 31. And they need to know that if they don’t have health insurance, they might need to pay a fine — $695 per adult or more. By sharing these facts, you’ll motivate people to get covered.
2. Support them throughout the process. Signing up for health insurance can be complicated, but there’s help available. At Enroll America, our research has shown that one of the most critical steps is the last one — picking the right plan. So we’ve launched a free tool, the Get Covered Plan Explorer, that gives people personalized estimates of how much every plan in an area would cost them over the course of a year. That way, people don’t need to be health insurance experts to pick the plan that’s the best fit for their medical and financial situation. But they can also speak with experts in their community to get one-on-one help, at no cost!
3. Team up with other community organizations to make an even bigger impact. A coalition is greater than the sum of its parts. And connecting people to health coverage is an all-hands-on-deck effort. School districts, community colleges, local government agencies, faith groups and more are pitching in to get the word out about the opportunity to get health insurance. By teaming up with them, your outreach can cover more ground. And by partnering with community organizations like food banks that offer application assistance, you’ll know where you can refer people looking for help with signing up for health coverage to.
By empowering people to get covered and stay covered — and by mobilizing our communities around this common goal — we can make a real difference for families’ facing the double burden of food insecurity and lack of access to health care.