Last week was all about outreach and enrollment and talking up the success of consumer advocates’ work during the first ACA open enrollment period.

First, Community Catalyst issued a report, Connecting Consumers to Coverage: Mobilizing for Enrollment, showcasing the many successful strategies employed by advocates and their partners. The report highlights five essential strategies advocates put into action across states:

The 5 essential strategies for enrolling consumers depicted with colored icons.

  1. Closing the information gap: making sure consumers have access to comprehensive, accurate information about the ACA.
  2. Breaking down barriers with one-on-one assistance: providing in-person assistance to help consumers overcome barriers to enrollment such as limited access to transportation.
  3. Meeting consumers where they are: finding creative ways to engage consumers by meeting them in highly frequented locations.
  4. Getting everyone to the table: strengthening collaboration between community organizations, leaders and stakeholders by developing innovative systems of coordination.
  5. Lifting up success stories and improving the consumer experience: collecting the stories of consumers to humanize policy goals and provide feedback to policymakers.

Although there are many ways to tell the story about getting 12 million people covered, we wanted to tell the story of how state consumer health advocates contributed to the success of the first enrollment period. We want to thank them for their devotion to helping consumers gain access to quality, affordable health care and we look forward to seeing what the next phase of enrollment will bring.

Then, at the Enroll America Conference, State of Enrollment: Getting America Covered, many consumer health advocates joined together with other members of the outreach and enrollment community to discuss lessons learned, inventive strategies, and next steps. The conversation at the conference included ways to ensure consumers not only get enrolled in affordable health insurance, but stay covered and use their insurance. Advocates heard from former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and other health care leaders about the key role grassroots outreach and in-person assistance played in the success of the first open enrollment period.

Most importantly, advocates were able to share their experiences with one another, highlighting many of the strategies detailed in the report. The feeling of camaraderie among this community was evident with advocates, assisters, and insurers alike leaving the conference reenergized to continue the work of reaching, educating, and enrolling consumers.

As enrollment numbers continue to grow, we know this success would not have been reached without the commitment and efforts of consumer health advocates across the country.  

– Carrie Rogers and Rachelle Rubinow