White House, Groups Prepare for Final ACA Enrollment ‘Surge’
To prepare for an anticipated "surge in activity" in the final month of the Affordable Care Act's initial open enrollment period, the Obama administration and advocacy groups are increasing customer service representation, targeting outreach to key minority groups and continuing to educate uninsured U.S. residents, Modern Healthcare reports (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 2/28).
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that seven million U.S. residents would enroll in coverage before the end of the open enrollment period on March 31. However, reaching that figure "became all but impossible" in the wake of the glitches with HealthCare.gov, according to The Hill's "Healthwatch" (Viebeck¸"Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/1).
Still, the Obama administration is anticipating an influx of enrollment activity in the last four weeks. In preparation, HHS over the weekend made several internal changes, including:
- Switching 1,500 customer service representatives from Web chat to direct telephone service;
- Adding about 800 Spanish-speaking representatives to its call center operations; and
- Setting up more training programs for both call center and in-person representatives.
In addition, advocacy group Families USA in March will work on awareness initiatives, host media teleconferences and help educate ACA call center representatives (Modern Healthcare, 2/28). Meanwhile, Enroll America recruited about 20,000 field volunteers to reach out to more than 660,000 individuals about enrolling in coverage through the health insurance exchanges.
The strategies are necessary, because recent surveys indicate that many U.S. residents still lack basic knowledge of the ACA, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In February, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that:
Around 63% of individuals knew nothing or very little about the federal and state health insurance exchange websites; and
Only about 24% of individuals knew the deadline for open enrollment.
Specifically, Latinos and other ethnic minorities were some of the least knowledgeable about the ACA, according to a recent analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The survey found:
- About 21% of Latino adults understood key health insurance terms; and
- About 36% of non-Latino minorities understood key health insurance terms (Pugh, Sacramento Bee, 3/1).