Thursday, August 22, 2013

Quick Notes on the Uninsured

I was lucky enough to be a part of a 2-day training on health reform (Affordable Care Act/Obama Care) earlier this month and got some great information and resources that I will be sharing with you faithful readers over the next few blog post. Most of the information I'll share is collected and provided by Enroll America, a nonprofit dedicated to making sure every uninsured American knows about the increased coverage options under the ACA. You can find all sorts of community and consumer education materials at Get Covered America. Let's start off with understanding who are the uninsured and how we can reach them.

Guess how many uninsured Americas know about the expanded coverage options under health reform (ACA, Obama Care)?

22%. 78% of uninsured Americans have no idea of their expanded coverage options under health reform. They have no clue. We have to change that.



Graphic from Enroll America Presentation Materials.

Who are the uninsured?

Minorities in America are more likely to be uninsured than are Whites/Caucasians. Men are more likely to be uninsured than women. People living in poverty are more likely to be uninsured than those with more income, with an exception being those working but earning low income, who earn too much for safety net programs and not enough to make health insurance affordable. These low income workers also often work jobs part time or their employers do not offer health insurance. Most people who are uninsured are not uninsured by choice. They do not health insurance either because they can't afford it or because they are excluded because of a previously diagnosed health condition (diabetes, heart disease, HIV, cancer, etc.). Many have been uninsured for more than 2 years (67%).



How do people feel about insurance?

Almost all the people surveyed by Enroll America thought health insurance is important (91%). Cost and affordability are the biggest barriers to health insurance for people. Many of the uninsured have shopped for insurance in the individual insurance markets, outside employer offered insurance (44%). They found this experience stressful, confusing and frustrating. They want health insurance, for financial and health security, but have no real options under the current system.


How do we reach the uninsured?

People have some misconceptions about the uninsured, one might be that they are not online because of affordability or access to technology. We can see by the graph below, that the uninsured are using the internet and smart phones just like other Americans. We can use social media and technology to reach different segments of the uninsured to get the word out about enrollment and insurance coverage options. 




But even well-connected and savvy internet users prefer to do somethings offline. Shopping for and enrolling in insurance is one thing many prefer to have in-person assistance with, rather than to go it alone online. According to Enroll America's survey, 75% of uninsured people who are newly eligible for coverage would prefer in-person assistance for enrollment.  So this is where Certified Application Counselors, Navigators and other in-person assisters are going to be key to getting all eligible Americans enrolled in health insurance.




In our next installment we will explore the messages that will work best to help people get informed and enrolled. 
 

Nicole Johns is a senior health planner at the Office of HIV Planning. You can also find her on Google+.

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