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- Schedule hour-long appointment slots for consumers to meet with CACs, and confirm appointment dates and times with consumers twice before the appointment. Understand that some appointments will take longer than an hour, and others less. If possible, prior to scheduling the appointment, identify the consumer’s needs (e.g. will a translator be required?) and where they are in the application process (e.g. is it an initial appointment, or is it a follow-up?). Consider using the Get Covered Connector tool to directly schedule and coordinate appointments.
- Determine whether it makes sense to double-book appointments to maximize efficiency in case individuals do not show up for appointments.
- Hold classroom-style enrollment events. This enrollment approach allows several consumers to begin the enrollment process simultaneously while still receiving in-person help. Each CAC can help four or five individuals at once. Classroom-style enrollment events can work well in computer labs (at a school or library, for instance), and local media may be interested in helping promote these events. This type of enrollment can be particularly useful when important deadlines loom and there is a surge in interest, or when capacity is limited. For example, if a computer lab has 40 computers, the event can be fully staffed with just 10 CACs. This kind of event works best for consumers with simple cases (e.g. single adults or households with no dependents) who are comfortable using a computer. Ensure that the assistance being provided is in the appropriate language for all consumers who participate; those working with an interpreter may be better served by one-on-one assistance.
- Identify the language needs of the population being served and establish new partners or work with existing partners to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate assistance.
- Offer weeknight hours (especially near deadlines); the highest traffic is usually from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Use a consent form that will allow you to collect personally identifiable information (PII) and conduct follow-up. Following up with clients, while not required, can help ensure they have successfully enrolled and are maintaining their coverage (e.g. reporting changes to the marketplace). Receiving clients’ consent up front also allows CACs or CAC organizations to follow up with those they assisted when it comes time for the individual to renew their coverage. The federal consent form template is provided here, but organizations can modify this form to fit their needs.
- Develop a triage system for staff and volunteers to expedite the application and enrollment process. Depending on job descriptions and skill sets, different staff and volunteers can have different responsibilities. For instance, staff and volunteers who are not CACs can help consumers sign in or set up email and HealthCare.gov accounts with clients before they meet with the CAC. This will expedite the process and potentially allow the CAC to help more people throughout the day, by allowing them to spend their time exclusively on duties that require certification.
- Prepare consumers for the initial appointment. Provide consumers with a list of the documentation they will need to bring to their initial appointment.
- Have a plan for complex cases. Some consumers may encounter a glitch or will need to submit additional supporting documentation in order to move forward with the enrollment process. Other consumers may be ineligible for coverage and will want help understanding the exemptions process. Still others may have questions about appeals, Medicaid application status, or complex immigration status issues. CAC organizations should determine the scope of assistance they intend to provide, and build partnerships with other organizations (e.g. state Medicaid agencies) where they can refer consumers that they are unable to assist.
- Develop partnerships with safety net providers in the community. Not everyone will be eligible for marketplace, Medicaid, or CHIP coverage. Develop relationships with community health centers or free clinics so warm hand-offs can be made to providers in the community that offer low or no cost health care services on a sliding fee scale.
- Develop workarounds and share with others. CACs may need to develop workarounds when there are IT glitches or other issues that slow down or impede the application and enrollment process. It is important to prepare to be flexible and to share workarounds with other CACs and organizations to maximize enrollment.
- Augment federal CAC training with additional training. Additional training will help CACs gain in-depth knowledge about specific topics and scenarios as well as learn how to best conduct outreach. Check with local partners to see if joint training makes sense.