The holiday season brings many traditions to look forward to, such as spending time with family and exchanging gifts. There are also some less-favored traditions, though, such as the deluge of holiday-themed advertisements. Viewing the same images and hearing the same messages repeatedly can make anyone want to put on their blinders, plug their ears, and tune them out!
When consumer health advocates began planning for the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period, advocates hypothesized that consumers who hadn’t enrolled in the previous open enrollment period may feel the same way that average holiday-shoppers feel – bombarded by the same messages that simply don’t resonate with them, and moreover, cause them to stop listening. To help motivate these consumers to enroll, the advocacy community felt that new messages needed to be created that would tap into the current feelings of the uninsured about having health insurance.
During the summer of 2014, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation worked with PerryUndem and GMMB to conduct consumer focus groups and a national poll of uninsured individuals to better understand their feelings and attitudes toward having health insurance. Separate focus groups and polling were conducted with Spanish-dominant, uninsured Hispanics as well. Although the participants agreed that having health insurance is important, many of them firmly believed that they could not fit health insurance into their budgets. Overall, they found three messages about health insurance options were the most motivating: 1) there are low-cost health plans, 2) you can get financial help and 3) in-person assistance is available.
TalkHealthInsuranceToMe.org, which educates consumers about these three aspects of the law and provides communications resources for partners to spread the word. The site provides a roadmap that walks consumers through information about the low-cost plans available through the Marketplace, eligibility information for financial help, and ways to find local, in-person assistance. The site also provides tools to help consumers determine how much financial help they are eligible to receive.
The partner-focused side of TalkHealthInsuranceToMe.org includes an outreach toolkit full of creative and innovative communications resources for advocates, enrollment assisters and other enrollment stakeholders. These resources are all available in both English and Spanish. In addition, RWJF has launched a digital and radio advertising campaign in federally-facilitated Marketplace states to help spread the word and encourage consumers to check out their options.
While the ACA has succeeded in enrolling millions of Americans in quality, affordable health coverage, there are still many who remain uninsured, due to perceptions of health insurance being unattainable, unaffordable, or both. Messaging aimed at these consumers should incorporate their current feelings and attitudes toward health insurance in order to be effective. Thanks to the leadership of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we can determine that emphasizing low-cost plans, the availability of financial help to pay for plan costs and in-person assistance to help navigate coverage options, are the messages that will be most effective at addressing attitudinal barriers to enrollment. The wealth of resources available at TalkHealthInsuranceToMe.org provides the enrollment community with ways to message ACA enrollment that will make the remaining uninsured stop tuning out and start listening.