THURSDAY, Jan. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Health insurance
exchanges in five states with strong enrollment growth are ramping
up efforts to reach even more uninsured Americans before the end of
the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period on March 31.
The March 31 deadline is for people who want health coverage for
Directors of health exchanges in California, Connecticut,
Kentucky, New York and Washington spoke about their enrollment
activities Wednesday during a news briefing sponsored by Families
USA, a nonprofit health advocacy organization.
"I think it's fair to say all five of these are leader states. They have done an extraordinarily good job," said Ron Pollack, Families USA's executive director.
Not that there haven't been glitches along the way.
Connecticut's health exchange, for example, has been working with
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to resolve problems with
consumers who did not receive premium statements or ID cards,
according to Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Access
Exchange leaders said their main focus is expanding enrollment
and educating consumers.
In all, 16 states and the District of Columbia run their own
health exchanges where consumers may buy private health coverage or
find out if they are eligible for Medicaid. Thirty-four states use
the federal portal, HealthCare.gov.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said
498,000 Californians have selected a health plan and hundreds of
thousands more have signed up for Medi-Cal. To drive additional
enrollment, the state marketplace is bolstering efforts to reach
young people and Latinos.
On Thursday, Covered California will be joined by several
state-exchange partners and the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit,
Enroll America, in a six-hour live YouTube event called Tell a
Friend -- Get Covered. The event kicks off at noon Pacific time and
will feature musical performances, skits and experts answering
Twitter questions about the Affordable Care Act.
Visitors to the Tell a Friend website may click on their state
to get more information or enroll in coverage.
Covered California also launched new ads this month in English
and Spanish to help people understand how the exchanges make health
care affordable, Lee said.
A lot of the marketing to Spanish-speaking consumers will be
focused on channeling them to local, in-person enrollment
assistance, he said.
In Washington, about 20 percent of the health plan enrollees are
in the key 18-to-34 age bracket, a slightly lower proportion than
the national average of 24 percent, said Richard Onizuka, chief
executive officer of Washington Health Benefit Exchange, an
independent organization created to implement the Affordable Care
Act in the state.
Washington's online health marketplace, which goes by the name
Washington Healthplanfinder, on Wednesday announced a partnership
with concert promoter Live Nation to reach the young adult
population. Outreach will be tied to the Sasquatch! Music Festival
and select Live Nation concerts across the state.
In Connecticut, the focus is on "just as much enrollment as
possible," said Counihan, who expects young people to be among the
latecomers to the insurance exchanges.
"I think we're all going to experience more young people enrolling at the end of March than we are in January or February," he said.
Access Health CT is introducing a new enrollment application for
tablets and smartphones beginning in March. An avatar will be added
to the application during the summer to improve the enrollment
Kentucky's health benefit exchange hopes to "maintain the
intensity of enrollment," said Carrie Banahan, executive director
of the Office of the Kentucky Benefit Exchange, where 2,000 to
3,000 consumers are signing up each day.
A significant percentage of consumers are not aware that they
may be eligible for financial assistance or expanded Medicaid
coverage, Families USA's Pollack noted.
"As long as that remains an information gap, a lot of people who have felt that insurance was unaffordable will still feel that way," he said.
Danielle Holahan, deputy director of New York State of Health,
said the health exchange's outreach and advertising efforts
underscore the affordability of coverage.
"We have shown that the premiums have been reduced by 53 percent in New York, even before you take tax credits into account," she said.
California's latest radio and television campaign, called
Welcome to Answers, "actually pounds home the issue of
affordability," Lee said.
Click here to visit
Friend -- Get Covered.
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