After six months of challenges, solutions and a terrific fight, Obamacare made it to the home stretch and secured its win by a staggering 8 million enrollment—all by March 31. In a period filled with technological and political challenges, the Obama administration shined, delivered results and got enough enrollments to sustain the law and prevent a death spiral. However with only seven months left before the next open enrollment period, the administration made one thing very clear – the race for a fully insured America is just beginning. To meet its target of providing health insurance for everyone, the Obama administration has geared its strategies to conserve the momentum gained in the first quarter of 2014, and use it to drive more enrollments during the next open enrollment period.
1) One of the key strategies of the administration to smooth out the enrollment process by giving dedicated guidance to people enrolling in Medicaid, CHIP, or people going through a life event that warrants a new health insurance plan. The administration is making sure that they help enrollees in every aspect, especially educating them about the fine lines of the law. Officials are reaching out to enrollees and detailing their options and how they can get the best coverage that fits their needs.
2) During 2014, as per available research, as many people are newly eligible for marketplace coverage as were in the beginning of the program. This perennially increasing number of eligible enrollees has warranted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to launch a special program. The Connecting Kids to Coverage is an example of one such program, which focuses on boosting CHIP and Medicaid enrollment. With $375,000 to spend, CMS is moving full steam ahead from May to August for fueling growth in these programs.
3) Another CMS outreach effort is getting in touch with student bodies in order to spread the work about the ACA, especially to graduating students. As a qualified life event, graduating students can enroll in marketplace insurance, and the administration has allocated a fair chunk of its $14 million outreach budget to this activity. The administration is also spending for radio commercials and public appearances for pushing the momentum of the program.
4) On the workplace front, the administration has affected new rules that mandate employers to tell employees about their health coverage options. On notices issues for COBRA eligibility, companies will be required to mention Obamacare availability, and this move is thought to secure more enrollments through the system.
5) Financial assistance has become an important point while communicating with specific demographics, specifically to people below 400 percent of the poverty line. Available statistics show that this is one of the more difficult to understand aspects of the law, and the administration is working overtime to ascertain that the notion of ‘unaffordable healthcare’ is removed and people overcome these inhibitions to enroll themselves in the program.
6) The administration is also bent on exploring more creative methods that will help them connect with the public and deliver their message. For example, when President Obama appeared on “Between Two Ferns,” Zach Galifianakis’ online comedy show. The appearance and subsequent promotion of health law by the President initiated a huge publicity push.
7) Health reform groups have played a pivotal role in the success of Obamacare. The administration is ensuring continued connection with these groups. Enroll America is one of the top examples of how reform groups are helping. Their volunteer presence is solid and they have affected enrollments in the system, prompting the administration to plan the buildup to open enrollment with them. These reform groups are trusted messengers of communities across the country. Currently, they are using life events in helping people understand the law better and to see how it helps them. In Arizona, for instance, they are coordinating with probation officers in reaching out to those being released from prison, a qualified life event. Similarly, they are contacting new mothers and participating in naturalization ceremonies.
Through these strategies and plans, the administration is getting the ground ready for the approaching open enrollment period. Just like the last enrollment period, people might require motivation and guidance, and the administration wants to be ready with all the above strategies in place. Let’s see if the coming open enrollment period can break the previous one’s enrollment record.