May 3, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. found me driving through miles of pecan groves in the southern part of New Mexico. I was heading to the first event in Health Action New Mexico’s (HANM) spring series, “It’s a New Day for Health Care in New Mexico.” These gatherings are cultural events aimed at educating communities about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. (ACA)
With 25 percent of New Mexicans currently uninsured or underinsured, we estimate that nearly 170,000 people will be eligible for the Medicaid Expansion in New Mexico, and another 200,000 for the Marketplace. HANM is hosting these cultural learning events to bring greater awareness about health insurance options to communities. If our first event is any indication, people are excited to find out about the changes that are occurring, and feeling empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.
The first event was held in San Miguel, a small village in Doña Ana county. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by more than a hundred welcoming faces ready to celebrate the Cinco de Mayo and hear about the new health insurance opportunities in New Mexico! Our co-host for the event, Concilio Campesino, a non-profit organization that offers community services to residents in southern New Mexico, was vital to ensuring the wonderful turnout.
The program began with celebratory music to commemorate el Cinco de Mayo. Then, after the Concilio Campesino team welcomed attendees, HANM stepped in with a brief presentation in Spanish to discuss the benefits the ACA will offer families, focusing on both the Medicaid Expansion and the state’s health insurance Marketplace. This presentation was an introduction, providing attendees with the basics of eligibility, the application processes, and what help exists should they encounter any challenges in enrolling.
We also introduced the community to the next step of our project; entitled “You Are Not Alone.” This effort will create collaboratives of local community leaders to help individuals enroll in Medicaid or the Marketplace. Afterwards, we made sure to leave plenty of time for a question and answer period, and closed the event with a return to the music.
In addition to the great turnout, the participants were enthusiastic to learn about various health options, asked great questions, and committed to sharing the information with others.
Our key strategy in these community events is to share factual information in the simplest, most actionable terms possible. HANM’s goal is for New Mexican families to be able to take their health care into their own hands; we made sure to leave everyone with a checklist that walks them through their eligibility for these new health insurance options.
HANM will be holding more events throughout the spring to celebrate a new day in health care with live music and important information.
— Joe Martinez, Consumer Outreach CoordinatorHealth Action New Mexico
Let’s unite for health justice. Together, we’ll work toward a more just and equitable health system.