In-person assisters played a crucial role in enrolling hard-to-reach, underserved populations in health insurance through Access Health CT (AHCT), Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace, last enrollment period. Their contribution to the enrollment effort in both private insurance and Medicaid, is highlighted in a study conducted by Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health.
The evaluation, funded by Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, Connecticut Health Foundation and the Donaghue Foundation, examined the enrollment experiences of people from underserved urban areas of Connecticut. The study sought to evaluate the outreach and enrollment process from the perspective of consumers and the in-person assisters and navigators who worked with them.
As trusted resources in the communities where they worked, assisters were clearly valued by their customers. The study shows high rates of satisfaction overall with the enrollment process and emphasizes that in-person assistance was preferred by customers when they were asked to compare it to their interactions with the website or helpline. The study also identifies factors that facilitated or impeded enrollment and outreach and makes recommendations for improvement.
During the open enrollment period of October 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, the federal government was the major funder of in-person assistance, providing over $2.5 million in funding to the program. This level of funding is no longer available, yet, the need for assistance, both for the upcoming open enrollment period (November 15, 2014, to February 15, 2015) and beyond, is great. Those who enrolled during this past year will need to sign up for coverage again. And there are still many people, who have yet to enroll.
As a recent Hartford Courant op-ed, points out, much “unfinished business” remains to ensure that Connecticut reduces the number of uninsured. The authors – three health foundation presidents including our very own Frances Padilla – express concern that at this late date, the plan for providing in-person assistance is still not in place.
The next Access Health CT board meeting is on Thursday, September 18. Now is the time for Access Health CT to show their commit to in-person assistance.