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 share a new strategy every day this week, will energize our partners and inspire creative outreach practices for reaching consumers as ACA enrollment continues

How can you train thousands of residents about health care with only three staff? While this may sound like a logic question on a graduate student exam, it’s a real issue in states across the country working to educate and enroll people in health insurance. Pennsylvania advocates have started to answer that question with a train-the-trainer program model. 

Instead of using their valuable staff time to deliver on the multitude of speaking requests they received around the state, Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) developed a train-the-trainer program. So far they have trained 100 people to be “PHAN-Certified Health Care Reform Trainers.” 

How did it work?  Potential trainers applied, went through a 6-8 hour training program, took written and oral exams, and committed to do 12 educational presentations in the course of the year. The trainees agree to provide presentations without cost and keep the standard slides from PHAN. So far, trainers have completed 20 presentations on the ACA, reaching hundreds of people at a variety of community locations including libraries, hospitals, non-profits and religious organizations.

The train-the-trainer process took some time investment up front, but has paid big dividends in Pennsylvania. With more trainers available for basic presentations on the ACA, the small staff has time for other advocacy functions. 

The PHAN Coalition also created a peer-to-peer learning community to support the trainers. They share successful strategies and troubleshoot issues together.  

For more information, visit PHAN’s blog