Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published its 2016 Survey of Health Insurance Marketplace Assister Programs and Brokers. This survey sheds light on these critical programs and the successes and challenges the in-person assistance community is facing as they continue to connect millions of consumers to coverage across the country.
At Enroll America, we frequently emphasize the importance of assisters in connecting consumers to coverage: Our data has shown that people who received in-person assistance were 60 percent likelier to successfully enroll in coverage.
Here are a few toplines from the KFF survey:
- Thousands are helping and millions are being served: With over 5,000 assister programs and 30,400 assisters, about 5.3 million consumers were helped during OE3!
- Assister programs remain strong year after year: 94 percent of assister programs in OE3 returned from the second open enrollment period (OE2), and 87 percent from the first open enrollment period (OE1). As KFF indicates, this likely means that assisters are developing closer ties with their communities and are becoming increasingly familiar with marketplace systems.
- Consumers look to assisters for help demystifying health insurance: With KFF’s data showing that 79 percent of consumers sought in-person assistance because they lacked the confidence to enroll by themselves and 77 percent wanted help understanding plan choices — virtually unchanged statistics from 2015 — it is clear that the role of assisters remains crucial. The survey also showed that 62 percent of consumers needed help to understand basic insurance terms, a slight improvement from last year, but still underscoring that health insurance literacy should remain a priority for the enrollment community.
- Assisters can play a key role in retention and renewal: Between OE2 and OE3, assisters helped at least 745,000 consumers navigate post-enrollment issues (such as not receiving an insurance card or premium invoice or confusion about how to use coverage). And with 39 percent of assisters stating that “most” or “nearly all” of their clients needed to renew coverage, and another 24 percent with “half” of their clients renewing, it’s increasingly clear that assisters play a central role in encouraging consumers to actively shop and renew each year.
As the enrollment effort continues to progress, Enroll America strives to learn from past experiences and to continue our training and support for in-person assistance programs to maximize enrollment. We have also designed tools such as the Get Covered Connector and the Get Covered Plan Explorer to help assisters reach more individuals and streamline connecting them to coverage.
We congratulate assister programs on another successful year and look forward to continuing to support their efforts!
For more details on these findings, click here to read the full survey report.