Get Covered America’s #GotCovered Series: Training for In-Person Assisters Is Underway Ahead of Second Open Enrollment Period

Enroll America Volunteers and Partners Are Training to Help
Consumers as Certified Application Counselors.

Monday, October 13, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Because we know the tremendous impact free, local help offers those signing up for health coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, Enroll America is working with partners to recruit 2,000 new Certified Application Counselors (CACs) to help with the second Affordable Care Act open enrollment period. Enroll America’s data from the first open enrollment period showed that consumers who received in-person assistance were more than twice as likely to successfully complete enrollment as those who attempted to enroll online without help. Moreover, the long lines stretching outside of enrollment events before the deadline in March underscored the need for added capacity. Across the country, thousands of our partners and volunteers are stepping forward and working to fill these vital roles when marketplace enrollment starts again November 15th and runs through February 15th. These are some of their stories.

Christine Bergstresser – Philadelphia, PA

During the first open enrollment period, Chris spent many weeknights and weekends helping to enroll members of her community in West Philadelphia. Her career working with medical insurance showed her firsthand the devastation that going without coverage can bring. Those experiences convinced her to complete training as a CAC one year ago this week. Chris will be recertified again before the second open enrollment period with the help of Enroll America and a partner, Resources for Human Development, in Pennsylvania. She expects the training to take a few hours one weekend and encourages others to take part. Chris says, “every time you enroll someone, it’s an education. It takes a few hours of certification and recertification, but it fulfills me and it’s a lot of fun because you’re constantly learning while helping.”


On the right, Christine helps a consumer at an enrollment event in West Philadelphia.

Chris’s enthusiasm for helping people get across the finish line is unparalleled. She says to those considering the training, “you’ve just got to jump in and do it.” That’s just what she did when she called Wanda Mills in Coatesville, PA to remind her of the deadline to secure coverage last fall. During the call Wanda said she would need help to complete the process, so Chris set a date and drove out to Wanda’s house, where she helped her complete her application on the spot. Wanda is paying less than $5 a month for her premium after her tax credit, and says she has already used her coverage for preventive screenings, and even convinced her son to get covered as well. Over Christmas last year, Wanda texted Chris a kind note and shared her family’s thanks. Chris says, “Those tears of joy make everything worth it.”

Ann and Robert Shelly – Columbus, OH

As husband and wife, Robert and Ann have made the ‘get covered’ effort a personal mission in their retirement. Since our campaign launched last summer, Ann and Robert have volunteered weekly, making phone calls, tabling, and connecting consumers to resources for signing up for coverage in their community. They decided to take their work to the next level when Get Covered America announced it would be recruiting and helping to train CAC’s for the second open enrollment period. Ann says she witnessed the increased demand for local help last time around the deadline, and knew she might have more to offer. Having spent her entire professional career in teacher education, she uses her skills to help educate consumers. “When I’m making phone calls, I’m teaching,” she says. Her motivation for completing the CAC training is part of a larger goal she had in mind when first joining Get Covered. She says, “I feel blessed that I’ve known the value of health coverage my entire life. Initially, I hoped to connect people to folks who are knowledgeable so they can sign up and then to become knowledgeable myself about the process to help others.” Ann and Robert plan to complete their training with Southeast, Inc – the healthcare provider and CAC we are partnering with in the Columbus area – by November 15th and will dedicate time each week during open enrollment to working with consumers. They say they have seen the difference free, local help can make for people to sign up – particularly for those who are less tech-savvy when it comes to going online. Ann says, “I know local help is more than just a motivator. It builds confidence in the process as we still have a ways to go when it comes to educating people.”

About Get Covered America and Enroll America

Get Covered America is a national campaign of Enroll America that is focused on educating consumers about the benefits of health coverage and the new health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act. With operations in eleven states (AZ, FL, GA, IL, MI, NC, NJ, OH, PA, TN and TX), our grassroots team is powered by passionate staff and volunteers with one motivating goal: to give Americans the information they need to choose an affordable health insurance plan that’s right for them and their families.

Enroll America is the nation’s leading health care enrollment coalition, bringing together community and health organizations, businesses and others to inform consumers about the new health coverage options and how to enroll in them. It is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization focused on one goal: maximizing the number of Americans who enroll in and retain health coverage.


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