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Health Care Enrollment: Is 100 Percent Coverage Possible?
Attendees discuss strategies to encourage health care enrollment.
Open enrollment is underway for MNsure, the state’s health insurance marketplace. We’ve heard a lot about the technical glitches that have caused roadblocks for signing up. But, for some groups – including immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, and individuals with fluctuating incomes – there are additional barriers to enrolling in coverage that must be addressed if we expect all Minnesota residents to have health insurance.

Earlier this year, people representing community organizations, health plans, government agencies, and foundations met and identified strategies for people and organizations working to increase health care enrollment among these traditionally hard-to-enroll groups. Several strategies identified focused on how staff can provide individual assistance to help overcome barriers:

  • Take the time to build individual relationships and trust and show people that they will receive ongoing long-term assistance.

  • Be knowledgeable about the forms, and be ready to answer questions with compassion and understanding.

  • Meet with people in the community in a familiar place where they can feel comfortable. Traveling to someone’s home or meeting them in a coffee shop shows your commitment and helps mitigate transportation issues that can be a barrier. This flexibility is especially important in suburban and rural communities.

  • Encourage word of mouth referrals from friends and relatives who can share positive experiences of having health insurance.

  • Inform people of all relevant documents and information they need to bring to enroll such as Social Security numbers and immigration documents. Translate the lists into relevant languages.

Several organizational strategies emerged as well:

  • Bridge cultural and language differences by identifying workers who can speak about their personal experience with the health care system. It’s also important to be able to help non-English speakers walk through the website, which is currently only available in English.

  • Offer enrollment assistance at places where people already congregate, such as school events, health care screenings at churches, support groups focused on specific diseases or conditions, and clinics or hospitals. You can also provide assistance in computer labs at community colleges, workforce centers, or legal aid offices.

  • Build relationships with referral sources that already have trusting relationships with potential enrollees such as physicians, county and school workers, community health workers, homeless advocates, insurance brokers, early intervention specialists, and trusted community and cultural leaders.

  • Generate awareness through publicity, such as newspaper ads or articles, public service announcements (PSAs), postcards sent to school families, and posted flyers. Take advantage of strategically placed postings in places people congregate and wait in line.

  • Change organizational practices such as adjusting where and when services are offered or offering paper forms for potential enrollees who are not able to use the online system.

The full report of the event, including ideas for how MNsure can improve the enrollment process, can be found here.

Related resources:
Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota: Report to the Legislature, Minnesota Department of Health

 

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Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway North, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104 Phone: 651-280-2000
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