With the deadline to enroll in federal and state marketplaces (for coverage beginning January 1, 2014) approaching on December 23rd, we know that our partners are working tirelessly to reach out to and enroll consumers in health coverage.  In recognition of this important and historical moment, this blog is part of a series to bring attention to innovative outreach and enrollment strategies around the country. We hope that Outreach Lessons from the States, which will shared a new strategy every day this week, will energize our partners and inspire creative outreach practices for reaching consumers as ACA enrollment continues. Be sure to check out all the blogs in this series.

The most recent enrollment numbers show that more than 31,000 Missourians have completed an application for health insurance. This impacts approximately 63,000 lives. More than 17,000 of these individuals are eligible for financial assistance (a premium tax credit) and approximately 6,500 who were unaware they were eligible were identified and enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The Certified Application Counselors (CACs) in Missouri are happy to hear these reports but are faced with the stark reality that more than 800,000 Missourians under the age of 65 are uninsured. Therefore, there is much work to be done.

Using as many strategies as possible, CACs are working throughout the state conducting outreach, education, and enrollment activities. One strategy that is becoming increasingly more popular is the engagement of health care providers. By establishing relationships with providers within hospitals, private practice, health clinics, and specialty centers, CACs are not only distributing awareness materials but making connections, establishing appointments, and connecting with consumers to assist with the enrollment process.

More specifically, CACs have partnered with local pharmacists, Cancer and Dialysis Centers, Planned Parenthood Health Centers and other FQHCs, as well as doctors affiliated with health care systems and those in private practice. They have asked the providers to speak directly with patients about their health insurance coverage and encourage their families to explore options in the marketplace, as well as share educational materials. At times CACs are onsite to address questions patients may have upon leaving their appointments and this has resulted in follow-up appointments to walk through the enrollment process on HealthCare.gov.

While this approach is helping to spread information, especially via word of mouth, the CACs have noted that a major key to success has been follow-up calls. Whether they are hosting an educational forum and want to remind people of when and where the event will take place or they are reminding people of the date and time of a scheduled appointment, the probability that the consumer will show up is greatly increased if they receive a phone call reminder.

CACs funded through the Missouri Foundation for Health’s Expanding Coverage through Consumer Assistance initiative are doing a considerable amount of the outreach, education, and enrollment work being conducted in Missouri. The goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of uninsured Missourians from 15 percent down to less than 5 percent of the population in the next five years.