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ACA

Open Enrollment Toolkit                                                       

This toolkit provides proven strategies and templates for use in outreach to media and your community in order to raise awareness about Open Enrollment and drive traffic to HealthCare.gov, assisters, navigators, and brokers, and community enrollment events.

Open Enrollment Overview

What to Know about the Uninsured

Where are the Uninsured

How Can I Help Get America Covered?

Facts about Open Enrollment

Messaging Memo: Hart Research

Key Messaging: Uninsured

Key Messaging: Currently Insured

Frequently Asked Questions

Example Event Advisory

Best practices - Email

Social Media Resources

Coalition Leads

 

We’ll continue to update this toolkit throughout the Open Enrollment. If you have any questions or notice an error, please email info@GetAmericaCovered.org. For more information or to sign up for updates, visit us at GetAmericaCovered.org

 

Open Enrollment Overview

Open Enrollment is the time each year when you can sign up for health insurance if you don’t already have coverage through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, or another sort of health coverage. The majority of states are on the federal exchange and use HealthCare.gov, which means individuals must sign up between November 1st and December 15th for coverage starting on January 1, 2018. The other 12 states have their own exchanges and while they all start Open Enrollment on November 1, some have different deadlines.

There are big changes this year. The enrollment period is half as long as in previous years and there’s only one deadline, so you must take action by December 15 or risk not having coverage in 2018 and having to pay a penalty. The administration has made other changes which will make it harder for people to get the information they need to get and stay covered. In person assistance funding has been cut by 40% and advertising has been cut by 90%. HHS regional staff have even been told they cannot help get the word out about Open Enrollment.

That means it’s up to all of us to get the facts out. Here’s what we need people to know:  You must take action to sign up for coverage by December 15 for 2018 coverage, and because of financial help, most people can find a plan for $50 to $100 per month.

There is a lot of confusion that we need to cut through. The best way to do that is to talk about the facts. For the uninsured, that means making sure people know that coverage is more affordable than they think. For those who already have coverage through HealthCare.gov, they need to know that they should come back and shop because plans and prices change every year and there might be a more affordable plan that meets their needs.

When thinking about your outreach, it’s important to keep in mind how people make decisions and when:

➔     Deadline-driven: People are deadline driven. Historically, enrollment is highest during the final week or days before an Open Enrollment deadline. Data show that people are much more likely to respond to any form of outreach when it’s closer to the deadline.

➔     Stick to the facts: Consumers do not appreciate being sold a health insurance plan. This is a significant financial decision and persuasion typically deters them from making a decision. Offer the facts, but respect their decision-making. Remember, they understand their own financial constraints well.

By spreading the word, we can cut through the confusion and make sure people have the information they need to choose a plan that works for them.

What to Know about the Uninsured

The uninsured come from a diverse set of backgrounds. While some have a lot of experience with health insurance, many have limited or no experience. Many of the uninsured are going through some sort of life change, whether that is losing a job, changes in income or a death in the family so health insurance isn’t a top priority - although they do understand the importance of having it.

Here’s are some key insights about how to communicate with the uninsured:

➔     Value health insurance: Most of the uninsured want health insurance and understand why they should have coverage.

➔     Doubt they can afford it: Most assume health insurance costs far more than they can afford. Many of the uninsured are on tight budgets -- where even a $50 dollar monthly premium seems out of reach. In 2016, the last time data was available, nearly 1 in 3 consumers had a monthly premium that was less than $50.

➔     Don’t know they qualify for financial help: Even if someone is aware that financial help is available, many incorrectly assume they don’t qualify. How much a person or family qualifies for depends on their household income. For example, a family of four with a household income up to $98,000 qualifies for financial assistance.

➔     Need reminders: People need multiple reminders to shop, apply and enroll in coverage. Many are on the edge about whether or not to enroll. Reminders increase their likelihood to see what options are available to them and ultimately enroll. 

➔     Most use assistance: Most people enrolling in coverage for the first time use some kind of assistance during the process. Whether they talk to someone in-person or over the phone, health insurance can be a difficult decision to make. Let them know expert help is available if they need it.

➔     Convince to come back and shop: Many of the uninsured have shopped have had experiences that led them to believe they cannot afford coverage so need to be convinced to come back. Let people know that plans, prices and the financial help they are eligible for changes each year and to take another look.

The uninsured are really confused - they don’t know when Open Enrollment starts and are worried that the rates have gone up a lot and are unaware that financial help is available that lowers premiums. The best thing you can do to counteract the confusion is to get the facts out there: Make sure the uninsured know that they can purchase affordable coverage during Open Enrollment from November 1 to December 15 and that 8 out 10 people qualify for financial help lowering monthly premiums to between $50 and $100.

Where are the Uninsured

People who are uninsured and eligible for ACA marketplace coverage are typically concentrated in specific geographic areas. Over the first 4 years of Open Enrollment, the top markets have stayed relatively the same - just moving up or down a slot.

Taking into account the number of eligible uninsured, the share of the population who qualify for tax credits, the amount of financial help the population is eligible for, past enrollment performance, etc. helps us identify those media markets (Nielsen Designated Market Areas) where there are a larger number of people who are uninsured.

The below list of the Top 30 media markets was created for OE4 but we do not anticipate any major change since last year.

Texas and Florida continue to contain a disproportionate share of the QHP eligible uninsured population of Federal Marketplace states. This year, the top 5 media markets include: Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and Tampa.

Rank

OE5 Top Markets

1

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale

2

Dallas-Ft. Worth

3

Atlanta

4

Houston

5

Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota)

6

Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn

7

Northern New Jersey

8

Chicago*

9

Philadelphia

10

Charlotte

11

Salt Lake City

12

Northern Virginia

13

West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce

14

Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle)

15

Phoenix (Prescott)

16

San Antonio

17

Greenville-Spart-Ashevll-And

18

Jacksonville

19

Nashville

20

Ft. Myers-naples

21

Detroit

22

St. Louis

23

Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem

24

Portland, OR*

25

Austin

26

Harlingen-Wslco-Brnsvl-Mca

27

Kansas City

28

Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws

29

Mobile-Pensacola (Ft Walt)

30

Milwaukee

* SBM using the FFM Platform

How Can I Help Get America Covered?

Ready to get started helping people sign up for health coverage? This year’s Open Enrollment period is the shortest it has ever been - it starts on November 1, and you must sign up by December 15 to have insurance in 2018 in any state that uses the federal marketplace. That’s not much time, which means we need everyone’s help in getting the word out.

The good news: everyone can pitch in and spread the word. Doesn’t matter if you’re a business or a mayor or someone who just wants to make sure their friends and neighbors are ready to sign up. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Have an Email List? Alert your friends, members, customers or constituents about Open Enrollment to make sure they know now is the time to sign up. Be sure to include links to HealthCare.gov and details about deadlines for signing up in your email message. Find more help for crafting the right email on.
  1. Start or Join an Open Enrollment Street Team. Since the administration slashed its advertising budget, we need to make sure that people know that Open Enrollment for most states runs from Nov 1 to Dec 15. So, here’s what you can do - grab your friends, print out materials (see Step 5 for more) and hit the streets. Go out in your community - visit your local library, talk to small business owners, reach out to your pharmacist, head down to your favorite coffee shop, visit with your faith leader - and see who is willing to put up a poster or hand out brochures. You can sign up here and encourage your members or others to sign up too.

❏     Step 1 - Build your team: Reach out to your family, friends and neighbors to see who is interested in helping - you can even start a Facebook event or group and invite your friends. Our partner organizations will also be directing their volunteers to register street teams - so if you want support from folks like Indivisible, OFA, Planned Parenthood, Young Invincibles, and more - be sure to register your street team here.

❏     Step 2 - Figure out the best spots to hit: We want to make sure that if you’re uninsured, you’ll see reminders wherever you go that Open Enrollment is about to start. Here’s what we know: many of the uninsured work for small employers in the following sectors: retail, construction, food/accommodation, manufacturing and health care/social services. Besides employers, head to places in your community where there’s a lot of foot traffic.

Here are some other examples of places that you can reach out to:

❏     Libraries

❏     Local stores and shops (such as coffee shops, restaurants, laundromats, gas stations)

❏     Places of worship

❏     Supermarkets

❏     Pharmacies

❏     Community health centers

❏     Community colleges and other local adult education centers

❏     Step 3 - Make a plan: Once you’ve figured out where you want to go, set a date and time for when you’ll go (make sure to go before November 1!), who will go with you, and who makes the most sense to speak to (for instance, is it the manager or the owner or the pastor?).

❏     You might be surprised - sometimes you may go in thinking the pastor or owner might be your best bet, but sometimes it might be a congregant or another influencer - the important thing is to stay active, and persevere - it pays off!

❏     Step 4 - Know the facts: Make sure you know if your state runs their own exchange (e.g., Covered California) or if it’s a HealthCare.gov state (i.e., federal government is managing enrollment) - you can find out here. If it’s not a HealthCare.gov state, you can click on the right link to check out your state’s website, learn more about the state’s enrollment deadline, and find materials.  Note that some states have a longer enrollment period than Healthcare.gov states.

❏     Step 5 - Print out materials: We have a lot of materials that you can print and take out for all of the HealthCare.gov states - and soon, we’ll have them in Spanish language. So in addition to the Get America Covered posters and postcards, you can print a lot of great materials from HealthCare.gov in Spanish:

❏     Get America Covered Poster, Flier, Postcard: Download Here

❏     HC.gov Poster: Get Health Insurance for 2018! Spanish

❏     HC.gov Brochure: The Health Insurance Marketplace Spanish

❏     HC.gov Fact Sheet: One-Page Guide to the Marketplace Spanish

If you live in a state that has their own exchange, check out the tool kit which has other  state’s websites and they’ll have materials you can print.

  1. Include Information in Any Print Communication: Include information about Open Enrollment in printed communications that are received by your members, customers or employees. (For example: receipts, paycheck stubs, church bulletins, membership letters, program applications, etc.)
  1. Share key facts on Facebook and Twitter. The easiest thing you can do is to use your social media accounts to spread the word about Open Enrollment. Find graphics here to include in your Facebook or Twitter posts. Need an idea for what you should post?

Suggested Post

Mark your calendar: You can sign up for 2018 health insurance starting November 1 at HealthCare.gov.

  1. Get ready to help out during Open Enrollment! Right now, the most important thing we can do is to put up signs and get the facts out to people. Starting on November 1, people will be able to sign up for health care. There will be a lot more to do when Open Enrollment starts - attend events, set up information tables, volunteer to help navigators - sign up now to make sure we have your information so we know you’re ready to take action between November 1 and December 15.

If we’re going to make sure that people know about Open Enrollment and that most people qualify for financial help, it will take all of us joining in to make it happen.

Facts about Open Enrollment

Here’s a cheat sheet with the key facts you need to know about Open Enrollment:

  1. HealthCare.gov Deadlines: For the 39 states using HealthCare.gov, Open Enrollment begins on November 1 and ends on December 15. December 15th is the new FINAL deadline to enroll for 2018. If you miss this deadline, the only way to get coverage in 2018 is to have a qualifying life event.
  2. Non-HealthCare.gov Deadlines: Here’s a rundown of the states with their own exchanges, their websites and deadlines:

State

State Based Marketplace

Deadline for 2018 Coverage

California

Covered California

January 31, 2018

Colorado

Connect for Health Colorado

January 12, 2018

Connecticut

Access Health CT

December 22, 2017

District of Columbia

DC Health Link

January 31, 2018

Idaho

Your Health Idaho

December 15, 2017

Maryland

Maryland Health Connection

December 15, 2017

Massachusetts

Health Connector

January 23, 2018

Minnesota

MNSure

January 14, 2018

New York

NY State of Health

January 31, 2018

Rhode Island

Health Source RI

December 31, 2017

Vermont

Vermont Health Connect

December 15, 2017

Washington

Washington Health Plan Finder

January 15, 2018

  1. Affordable Options: Eight out 10 people qualify for financial help so most people can find plans with premiums between $50-$100 per month -- many can find plans for less than $50.
  2. Renewing Coverage: If you already have coverage, Open Enrollment is the time to compare your options. Plans, prices and financial assistance change every year and most people can save money by actively renewing their coverage.
  3. 24/7 Call Center: To enroll or get assistance, people can call the Marketplace call center 24/7 (except Thanksgiving) during Open Enrollment at 1(800) 318-2596 and talk to a trained enrollment specialist.
  4. In-person assistance: Confidential, unbiased in-person assistance is available - you can make an appointment here. You can talk through your family’s individual situation with a trained enrollment specialist.
  5. Plan Types: Depending on which type of plan you choose - Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum - you’ll pay a different percentage of total yearly costs for your care, and your insurance company will pay the rest. Bronze has the highest out-of-pocket costs, but the lowest monthly premiums. Silver is the only plan that qualifies for financial help to lower your out-of-pocket costs - what you pay for your deductible. Platinum plans have the least out-of-pocket costs, but the highest monthly premiums.
  6. Lower your out-of-pocket costs: In addition to financial help that lowers premiums each month, many people also qualify for lower out-of-pockets costs through Cost Sharing Reductions. You must choose a silver plan to get these savings. Qualifying for these savings depends on your income - see if you qualify here.
  7. 10 Essential Health Benefits: All health plans must cover these basic health services:

 

●     Doctor’s visits—Outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital such as a doctor’s visit for the flu;

●     Trips to the emergency room—the average cost of which can exceed the average month’s rent;

●     Treatment in the hospital for inpatient care which, for an average three-day stay, can cost $30,000;

●     Care before and after a baby is born—because without insurance, a C-section can cost $50,000;

●     Mental health and substance use disorder services—which include behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy—for which cost can be as much of a barrier as stigma;

●     Your prescription drugs—as nearly half of all Americans took a prescription drugs in the last thirty days;

●     Services and devices to help injured individuals recover, as well as those with disabilities or chronic conditions. This includes physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and psychiatric rehabilitation;

●     Lab tests which, as reporters have found, can have widely varying costs even for simple blood tests;

●     Preventive services including counseling, cancer screenings, and vaccines to keep individuals healthy and care for managing chronic diseases; and

●     Pediatric services including dental care and vision care for children.

  1. Penalty: If you do not have coverage from another source, you may have to pay a penalty of $695 or 2.5% of your household income -- whichever is greater.

Messaging Memo: Hart Research

TO:             Interested Parties

FROM:        Hart Research Associates

DATE:         October 11, 2017

RE:    New Polling Among ACA Marketplace Insured and Eligible Uninsured

From September 28 to October 3, Hart Research Associates completed interviews with 400 adults age 18 to 64 that currently get insurance through the ACA marketplaces or will be eligible to do so in 2018.  The sample included interviews with 200 individuals insured through the marketplaces and 200 uninsured individuals.

Overview

Our recent national survey of 200 insured consumers with coverage through the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces and 200 uninsured individuals confirms the importance of reaching out to current and potential marketplace consumers to reinforce their instincts about why it is important to get health insurance coverage, and to address the substantial confusion and lack of information that exists about the Open Enrollment process.

Encouragingly, consumers recognize the importance of having health insurance, and most insured consumers and many uninsured consumers intend to purchase health insurance for 2018.

➢      Nearly all insured consumers (98%) say it is important to them to have health insurance, and 84% indicate that they will purchase health insurance for 2018.

Importantly, 85% of insured consumers say they are satisfied with their current health insurance plan overall, and three in four say they are satisfied with the costs of premiums, copays, and the annual deductible.

➢      Nearly as many uninsured individuals (79%) feel it is important to have health insurance.  While they are less certain than insured consumers that they will purchase health insurance for 2018, few have decided they will not: 40% of uninsured individuals say they will purchase health insurance for 2018, 37% say the chances are 50-50, and only 23% say they will not.

Despite the priority consumers place on having health insurance and the intentions that many have to buy it, the survey reveals a great deal of confusion and uncertainty about the ACA marketplaces among both these audiences.  Few know when the Open Enrollment period begins and ends; most uninsured individuals and many insured consumers are not aware that they are eligible for tax credits under Obamacare; and many consumers are uncertain whether Obamacare will be cancelled and people will lose their health insurance in 2018.  Filling in these information gaps will be critical in the weeks ahead.

Recommended Messaging Framework

Insured and uninsured consumers express similar priorities when they consider getting coverage—with a particular emphasis on needing coverage that is affordable.  The good news is that while many express concerns about cost, 84% of currently insured consumers intend to re-enroll for 2018; yet it will still be important to address their concerns about cost, fill information gaps, and correct misperceptions.  The challenges around cost among uninsured consumers are more acute as very few are aware that financial help is available to make health insurance more affordable.

Both insured and uninsured consumers place a priority on the cost of coverage as they think about their decision to enroll in a health insurance plan.  As November 1st approaches, it will be essential to inform both insured and uninsured consumers that affordable health coverage is in fact available to them, and to remind them about the value of having coverage.  To this end, the research reveals a core messaging framework that resonates with both audiences:

Core Messaging Framework: The core components of a messaging architecture with the greatest potential to motivate marketplace insured and uninsured individuals to sign up for health insurance are that, 1) there are affordable plans available, 2) most people qualify for a tax credit that makes plans affordable, and 3) consumers may end up paying a lot more if they don’t have insurance (because of unexpected illness or accident and/or because of the penalty).

For advocates and allies who will be conducting public outreach and education efforts to make sure consumers get the information they need to get covered and stay covered through the ACA marketplaces, the public opinion research we conducted offers important cues for communicating effectively.

1) Focus messaging first and foremost on affordability.  Cost is the number one concern that consumers have about getting health insurance and it is the biggest barrier for those less inclined to sign up for 2018 coverage.  The large majority (71%) of insured consumers think health insurance will be a lot more expensive in 2018 than it was this year, and most uninsured consumers either think it will be a lot more expensive (56%) or are not sure (31%).

Additionally, notable proportions of consumers (35% of insured, 59% of uninsured) do not believe that there are affordable health insurance plans available for 2018 or are uncertain that there are.  This is important because consumers who think that affordable plans are available (77% will purchase) are more likely to plan to purchase health insurance than are those who do not believe there are affordable plans available (41% will purchase) or are not sure (48% will purchase).  When asked what they consider to be an affordable amount to pay for health insurance, 84% of uninsured consumers say that they would consider $100 or less per month an affordable amount, including (56% who say $50 or less and 28% who say $51-$100).

There also is a lack of awareness about eligibility for tax credits to reduce the cost of health insurance, and awareness of eligibility correlates to likelihood of buying insurance for 2018.  Just 15% of uninsured and only half (51%) of insured consumers are aware that they qualify for a tax credit that lowers the monthly cost and makes health insurance affordable.  In fact, just 41% of individuals currently insured through the marketplace are aware that they currently receive a tax credit.

For these reasons, the top priority for outreach should be highlighting the availability of affordable plans and that there is a tax credit available for most individuals that makes coverage affordable.  These two messages tested well among both insured and uninsured as among the three strongest reasons to enroll, and should be core themes of messaging aimed at getting Americans covered:

Core message: The tax credit available through HealthCare.gov reduces most people’s premium cost to a total of $50 to $100 per month (top tier message with both audiences).

Core message: Coverage could be more affordable than you think.  More than eight out of 10 people who enroll through HealthCare.gov qualify for financial help to make quality coverage more affordable (2nd tier message with both audiences).

The message below also has potential, but would be stronger if combined with the more specific data about cost and eligibility for financial help mentioned in the two previous messages:

Complementary message: Health plans and prices change every year–and the amount of financial help you can get can change too. Take a look to see if there's a plan that fits your budget and your needs (3rd tier message with both audiences).

2) Highlight the cost of not having health insurance.  Both insured and uninsured consumers indicate that having health insurance coverage to avoid the costs of unexpected illness or accidents is a top reason that they would get health insurance (along with finding an affordable plan and ensuring they can get regular medical care).  The message testing indicates that it will be important to remind consumers of this key value of having health insurance:

Core message: Accidents happen and people get sick. Health insurance protects you from the unexpected (top tier message with both audiences).

Having to pay a penalty for not having coverage is another cost of not signing up, and there is room to educate consumers about this cost of not getting health insurance.  While the majority of insured consumers (69%) and half of uninsured individuals (52%) are aware that people who do not have insurance will have to pay a penalty, that leaves many consumers who are not aware.  And even if they do know there is a penalty, most do not know the amount of the penalty.

Complementary message: By enrolling, you can avoid the penalty of $695 or two percent of your income for not having coverage (2nd tier message with both audiences).

Complementary message: Obamacare is still the law, which means you must have health coverage or pay a penalty (2nd tier message with both audiences).

3) Provide information about Open Enrollment to counter confusion.  The survey reveals a lot of confusion among both insured and uninsured consumers about when Open Enrollment begins and ends: only 31% of insured and 12% of uninsured say that it begins on November 1st, and even fewer know when it ends.

Majorities of insured and uninsured consumers either believe that Obamacare will be cancelled and people will lose their health insurance coverage in 2018 or say they are unsure; fewer than half in each group (46% of insured, 41% of uninsured) believe this is not true.  Indeed, after costs, this is one of the top concerns that insured consumers have about purchasing health insurance for 2018.

For these reasons, it will be important to clearly communicate to consumers that they can purchase health insurance for 2018 through the ACA marketplaces during Open Enrollment which begins on November 1st.  It will also be critical to let consumers know the deadline for enrollment through HealthCare.gov (December 15th) or their state exchange (dates vary).

4) A message about the availability of free expert should only be used as a follow up to core affordability messaging.  Most insured consumers, who have gone through the enrollment process before, say it is at least somewhat easy to evaluate and compare health insurance options and enroll.  Uninsured individuals are less convinced of the ease of the process, however.  A message about the availability of free expert help could make the process seem less daunting, though it would only make sense to highlight this theme after first telling consumers that there is financial help available that can make coverage affordable.

Complementary message: Free expert help is available.  If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is available online, over the phone, or in person (3rd tier message with both audiences).

5) Doctors and insurance companies are the voices that will garner the most attention from consumers making decisions about enrollment.  Both insured and uninsured consumers say that, when making decisions about enrolling in health insurance, they would pay the most attention to doctors, with insurance companies a close second.  Some employed individuals also indicate that they would pay the most attention to what their employer had to say.

Key Messaging: Uninsured

Based on consumer research, we know that there is certain information that drives people to take action. Below are the key points that people who are uninsured need to know. Remember: for it to sink in, people will need to hear these same points multiple times.

  1. Starting on November 1 you can sign up for affordable coverage at HealthCare.gov. Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage at HealthCare.gov starts November 1.
  1. You must sign up by the December 15 deadline. If you want 2018 coverage, you have to take action by December 15. Beat the rush and sign up early.
  1. Coverage could be more affordable than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help - for most people, that meant they could find premiums between $50 and $100 per month. You should definitely check out your options and see if you could save even more on your out of pocket costs by choosing a silver plan.
  1. Signing up for coverage is easy.  You can even apply on your smart-phone. It only takes about 10 minutes to submit an application.

●     An Out of Pocket Cost estimator will help you estimate your total costs for the year including premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

●     There are Doctor and Prescription Drug Lookup tools so you can find out which plans cover your doctors and prescriptions.

  1. Free, expert help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a call or click away.

●     By Phone: Marketplace call center representatives are available to help all day, every day at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Assistance is available in many languages. The call is free.

●     Make an Appointment: Need help with your health insurance application? You can enter your ZIP code at the Get Covered America Connector to make an in-person appointment.

●     Find More In-Person Help: You can find free and confidential local help in your community by visiting: LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.

  1. Those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty. There is a minimum penalty of $695 for not having health insurance.

Key Messaging: Currently Insured

During Open Enrollment, consumers with 2017 Marketplace plans should come back to update their information and renew their coverage for 2018. Based on consumer research, we know that there is certain information that drives people to take action.

  1. Plans and prices change every year - make sure you’re signed up for the plan that best fits your budget and health needs.
  1. Did your job, family, or health status change? You should come back to HealthCare.gov to shop and make sure you’re enrolled in right plan.
  1. It pays to shop. Even if none of your information has changed, you may still be able to get a better deal. Marketplace consumers have the option to switch plans annually. This means that during Open Enrollment you can check to see if there is a plan offered this year that saves you more money, offers you more services, or includes more doctors.
  1. You must take action by December 15. If you want updates to your coverage, you must make changes is December 15. Come back, update your info and make sure you have the best plan to meet your health and budget needs.
  1. It’s easy to renew. It will only take a few minutes to update your application, review your options, and select a plan.
  1. Financial help is available. 8 out of 10 people who enrolled in health coverage through HealthCare.gov qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable. Most people can find plans available for less than $75 dollars.
  1. Free, expert help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a call or click away.

●     By Phone: Marketplace call center representatives are available to help all day, every day at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889- 4325. Assistance is available in many languages. The call is free.

●     Make an Appointment: Need help with your health insurance application? You can enter your ZIP code at the Get Covered America Connector to make an in-person appointment.

●     Find More In-Person Help: You can find free and confidential local help in your community by visiting: LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is HealthCare.gov?

●     HealthCare.gov is an easy to use website for people looking for affordable health care coverage that fits their budgets and needs. The 39 states on the federal exchange use HealthCare.gov.

●     Spanish speaking consumers should visit CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

●     HealthCare.gov makes it easy to shop and compare the plans available in your area.

●     You can compare plan benefits and coverage prices and find out if you qualify for financial assistance.

●     HealthCare.gov has information on how enrollment works and what benefits are available, as well as videos and checklists to help people learn about their options and the steps they need to take to get covered.

Why is it important to get covered?

●     No one plans to get sick or hurt, but it happens. Health insurance from HealthCare.gov protects you and your family members from the unexpected.

●     All plans at HealthCare.gov cover free preventive care with no co-pay. This means free check-ups, and more.

●     All plans at HealthCare.gov also cover guaranteed essential benefits such as prescription drugs, maternity care, doctors visits and more.

●     No one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition like high blood pressure or asthma. No American has to worry that losing a job will mean that he or she won’t qualify for health coverage.

●     With health insurance, insured Americans won't be forced to put off a check-up or worry about going broke if they get sick.

Who can enroll in a health insurance plan through HealthCare.gov?

If you don’t have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid or another source, HealthCare.gov helps you find and enroll in a plan that fits your budget and meets your needs.

How can people enroll in coverage?

●     Getting covered is easier than ever. Every year, the process of signing up for coverage gets simpler. You can even apply on your cell phone. It only takes about 10 minutes to submit an application.

●     There are many ways to select a health plan and enroll.

○     You can visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for coverage online.

○     If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free and confidential assistance is just a call or click away. You can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800- 318-2596 or find local, in-person help by visiting LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.

○     You can also schedule an appointment with an expert who can answer questions and help you sign up. Make an appointment here.

When does Open Enrollment begin? What’s the deadline to sign up?

●     Open Enrollment for signing up for 2018 health insurance through HealthCare.gov begins November 1, 2017 and ends on December 15, 2017.

●     Open Enrollment was cut in half, and there is only one deadline this year, so if you want coverage in 2018, you must sign up by December 15.

●     Consumers with existing marketplace coverage should come back to shop and review their coverage options by December 15, 2017 as new, better and more affordable plans may be available for them in 2018.

●     The final deadline to enroll for 2018 coverage is December 15, 2017.

How many people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act so far?

●     Millions of Americans have signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov. They are benefiting from the peace of mind that comes with having quality coverage at a price they can afford.

●     More than 12 million signed up for coverage during the last Open Enrollment.

 How can consumers get help if they have questions?

●     Free tools on HealthCare.gov and personal assistance on the ground in communities across the nation are available to make sure you feel confident that you’ve picked the right plan for you and your family.

●     If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free and confidential assistance is just a call or click away.

○     Online: Information is available at HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

○     By Phone: Marketplace call center representatives are available to help all day, every day at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889- 4325. Assistance is available in many languages. The call is free.

○     In Person: Consumers can find free and confidential local help in their communities by visiting: LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov or you can make an appointment with the Get Covered America Connector.

Is it true that people will have to pay a fee if they don’t have health insurance in 2018?

●     Having health insurance is the law so If you choose not to buy health insurance this year, you may need to pay a tax penalty of $695 or more.

●     8 out of 10 people who purchase health insurance through HealthCare.gov qualify for financial assistance to help lower the cost of their premium.

What is covered by a plan on HealthCare.gov?

●     Free preventive care: All plans at HealthCare.gov cover free preventive care with no co-pay. This means free cancer screenings, check-ups, and more.

●     Protections for people with pre-existing conditions: Millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry about being denied health coverage or being charged higher premiums because of their health status.

●     Free or low cost health insurance: You can find out if you are eligible for low cost health insurance premiums at HealthCare.gov. 8 out of 10 people qualify who enroll in coverage through HealthCare.gov qualify for financial help to make their premiums lower. And over 7 out of 10 can find a plan for as little as $50 per month.

●     Comprehensive coverage: Health plans in the individual and small group markets are required to cover ten categories of essential health benefits – including emergency services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, and prescription drug coverage.

●     Emergency care: In an emergency, individuals are covered at any hospital location and his or her insurance company can't charge more for getting emergency room services at an “out-of-network” hospital.

Won’t the law be repealed soon?

●     The Affordable Care Act is the law. While there has been a lot of talk about repeal, nothing has changed. You still must have health coverage or risk paying a penalty of $695. On November 1, you will still be able to visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for affordable coverage. You can still get financial help to lower your premiums and deductibles. And all of the plans must cover essential health benefits that keep you healthy and are there in case you have an accident or get sick.

●     When you sign up for health coverage during Open Enrollment, you are guaranteed a year of coverage with your insurance company so long as you keep paying your premiums.

What about the executive order that President Trump signed - what does that mean for coverage?

●     Nothing has changed. If you’re signing up for coverage for the first time or re-enrolling for coverage, you’ll have the same consumer protections and can get financial help that makes coverage more affordable.

How will I be impacted by President Trump’s decision to stop funding Cost Sharing Reductions?

●     “Cost-sharing reductions” is just a fancy way of talking about the help people can qualify for to lower their deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

●     It’s really important for people to understand that they will still get ALL of the financial assistance they qualify for, including cost sharing reductions, despite the decision to stop funding these payments.

●     Even though insurance companies may have increased rates, the tax credit you receive increases too so you won’t have to pay any more for your coverage.

●     It’s important that people come back in shop - if you don’t receive a tax credit to lower your monthly premiums, there may be a plan that still meets your needs but saves you money.

Example Event Advisory

Trained HealthCare.gov Enrollment Specialists to Provide Free and Confidential Help

It’s that time of year again when people can sign up for health coverage at HealthCare.gov. Because of the shortened Open Enrollment period, it’s more important than ever that people understand their options and get the help they need. Professionally trained HealthCare.gov [Assisters/Navigators] will be hosting a health insurance enrollment event on [Day(s), Date] to help people in [City/Community Name] sign up for affordable, quality health coverage.

At the event, individuals and families can meet for free with trained enrollment specialists to review coverage options, find out if they qualify for financial assistance, and sign up or re-enroll in a plan that meets their needs.

WHO:         [Insert special guests and note navigators/assisters will be on hand]

WHAT:       Enrollment event to help people in [City/Community name] learn about their options.

WHEN:       [Insert day, date, time]

WHERE:    [Insert location details]

5 Facts About Signing Up For Coverage at HealthCare.gov:

#1: Sign up by December 15. Open Enrollment starts on November 1 but you must take action by December 15, no matter if this is your first time getting covered or if you are returning to shop and save. Beat the rush and sign up early.

#2: Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable. In fact, most people found plans available between $50 to $100 per month.

#3: Shop and save. If you had coverage through HealthCare.gov for 2017, you should come back to update your information and compare your options for 2018. Every year, plans and prices change, you could save money by switching to a new plan that still meets your needs.

#4: Those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty. There is a minimum penalty of $695 for not having health insurance.

#5: Free help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a call or quick away. Call 1-800-318-2596, visit localhelp.healthcare.gov or make a one-on-one appointment now.

Best practices - Email

One of the most effective ways to help encourage Americans to get covered during Open Enrollment is to send emails that gets the facts to people who may need health insurance.

●     How to Use: While you can start with the sample email below, the very best emails are the ones you write for your audience. For example, you can tailor an email by putting it into the voice, style and template you currently use for your organization or company.

●     When to Send Emails: If you can only send a single email, the best time to send is the week before the final December 15 deadline. Of course, multiple emails - starting as soon as Open Enrollment starts on November 1 - is always better.

Top Tips for Writing Emails

1)    Remind people that getting covered might not be as expensive as they think: Many people who gain coverage through HealthCare.gov are often surprised by how much they can save. Use email to remind people that most who sign-up receive financial help that lowers the cost of their monthly premiums. Remember to simplify statistics as much as possible (e.g. 8 out of 10 people).

Language to get you started:

➔     8 out of 10 people who enrolled in health coverage through HealthCare.gov qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable.

➔      Most people can find a health insurance plan from $50 to $100 per month.

➔      Add action-oriented language, like “find out how much you can save.”

2)     Emphasize the deadline: This could well be the most incentivizing point, so make sure to include it! If people miss the deadline, they’ll likely have to wait another year to get covered.

Language to get you started:

➔     You must sign up for  health coverage by December 15.

➔     Open Enrollment only happens once each year. This year’s Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage runs from November 1 through December 15. Don’t miss your chance to get covered.

➔     It’s the law. If you don't get covered by the December 15 deadline, you could face a penalty of $695 or more.

3)    Remind people that getting covered is easy and won’t take a long as they think: Point out the fact that there are free tools and free personal assistance available to help make signing up easier than ever.

Language to get you started:

➔     During last year’s open enrollment, it took most people only about 10 minutes to submit an application.

➔     If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free and confidential assistance is available.

◆      Marketplace call center representatives are available to help 24 hours, every day at 1-800-318-2596.

◆      Make an appointment to talk in person with trained expert.

4)    Let people know other people are enrolling: People are more likely to enroll if they know others are enrolling too. Any language that leans into the idea that other people are getting covered, and they’re doing it right now is helpful.

Language to get you started:

➔     Millions of Americans count on HealthCare.gov for quality, affordable health care.

➔     Last year, over 12 million people signed up for health insurance.

Social Media Resources

The easiest thing you can do is to use your social media accounts to get the facts out about Open Enrollment. Find graphics here to include in your Facebook or Twitter posts. Need an idea for what you should post?

Key dates

●     Open enrollment starts on November 1

●     The final deadline for getting covered is December 15

Hashtags

●     The primary hashtag is #GetCovered

Drive people to HealthCare.gov: Starting on November 1, it’s important to drive people  to HealthCare.gov to start enrolling in a 2018 health plan.

Download Graphics

●     Get America Covered has produced a lot of graphics that can be found on Medium and saved. We’ll continue to produce graphics for Facebook and Twitter.

General Messages

●     It’s November 1! You can now visit HealthCare.gov to sign up for 2018 coverage – don’t wait to #GetCovered!

●     You don't need health coverage...until you need it. Be covered for the what-ifs in life. #GetCovered today at HealthCare.gov

●     Have health insurance but need coverage for next year? Visit HealthCare.gov and make a plan to stay covered next year.

●     Mark your calendar: You can sign up for 2018 health insurance between November 1 and December 15 at HealthCare.gov.

Final December 15 Deadline for 2018 Coverage

●    Don’t wait! You must enroll by December 15 for 2018 coverage. Sign up at HealthCare.gov. #GetCovered

●    REMINDER: Your last chance to enroll for 2018 coverage is December 15! Act now at HealthCare.gov. #GetCovered

●    December 15 = the last day to enroll for 2018 coverage. Sign up now! #GetCovered HealthCare.gov

Affordability

●    FACT: Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to buy health insurance. Sign up at HealthCare.gov starting Nov 1.

●    Most people qualify for financial help to #GetCovered. Explore your health coverage options at HealthCare.gov.

●    Most people can find health coverage for $50-$100 a month. You won't know unless you shop. Visit HealthCare.gov to #GetCovered.

●    Find a health plan that's cheaper than your cell phone bill. Shop for one at HealthCare.gov and #GetCovered today.

●    Ever hear an uninsured friend say health coverage is too expensive? Let them know that most people can find plans for $50-$100 per month.

Shop and Save

●    Already have coverage through HealthCare.gov? It’s time to go back to shop and save. See if there’s another plan that meets your needs and saves you money!

●    1. Shop. 2. Compare. 3. Save money. Visit HealthCare.gov to learn about your health insurance options. #GetCovered

●    Go shop! You may be surprised to find out you’re newly eligible for financial assistance. You won’t know unless you go: HealthCare.gov

Local Help is Available

●    Want to expert advice on signing up for health coverage? Make an appointment today to #GetCovered → https://connector.getcoveredamerica.org/en-us/widget/?original=/

●    Help is available to #GetCovered! 1-800-318-2596 or visit localhelp.healthcare.gov to find in-person assistance.

●    Need help signing up for health coverage? Call 1(800)318-2596 for 24/7 assistance in English, Spanish, and 200+ other languages. #GetCovered

●    SHARE: Free in-person help is available in your community. Find out where: localhelp.healthcare.gov

●    Need help enrolling? Make an appointment https://connector.getcoveredamerica.org/en-us/widget/?original=/ or call 1-800-318-2596.

You’ve Got Options

●    You've got options. Shop, compare, and pick the plan that fits your needs. Visit HealthCare.gov to sign up for health coverage.

●    Choose the plan that fits your needs and budget. Shop and compare today. Visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for health coverage.

●    Got a favorite doctor? Take a prescription? You can sort plans to make sure it covers what you need. Visit HealthCare.gov to #GetCovered.

Easy to Sign Up

●    You buy clothes on your phone. You buy groceries on your phone. Buy health coverage on your phone too. Visit HealthCare.gov to #GetCovered.

●    The #GetCovered process is fast and streamlined. See for yourself. Visit HealthCare.gov and sign up for health coverage.

Young and Healthy

●    Young ≠ invincible. Don’t gamble with your health. Sign up for health coverage at HealthCare.gov. #GetCovered

●    You may be young, but you’re not invincible! Join millions of Americans and #GetCovered today at HealthCare.gov.

●    Busy schedule? No problem! Signing up for a 2018 health plan is easy AND affordable! Start here → HealthCare.gov

●    That moment you realize getting health insurance doesn’t mean breaking the bank. Enroll now → HealthCare.gov [Upload graphic: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DL8kVVKXcAAbAX-.jpg]

Self-Employed/Entrepreneurs

●    Self-employed? Working part-time? Freelancing? Get the health coverage you need at HealthCare.gov.

●    The ACA makes it possible for entrepreneurs to chase their dreams and still have health insurance. #GetCovered at HealthCare.gov.

●    Pursue your dream. Know you’re covered. It’s as simple as starting your enrollment → HealthCare.gov #GetCovered

Rural America

●    Thanks to #ACA, the rate of the uninsured has ↓ by nearly 40% in rural communities. Let’s build on this! http://bit.ly/2kt2PrX #GetCovered

●    Nearly 9 in 10 rural Americans shopping on @HealthCareGov will be able to get tax credits. #GetCovered http://bit.ly/2kt2PrX

Coalition Leads

Below is a list of websites for the coalition or lead navigator by state. We encourage you to connect directly with your state coalition to get involved!

Please note: This list is still in development; if you have updates or concerns with this list, please contact us at info@getamericacovered.org.

State

Coalition//Lead Navigator

Website

Alabama

Enroll Alabama

http://enrollala.com/

Alaska

Get Covered Alaska

http://getcoveredalaska.org/

Arizona

Cover AZ

http://coveraz.org/

Arkansas

My Arkansas Insurance

http://myarinsurance.com/

Delaware

Choose Health Delaware

http://www.choosehealthde.com/

Florida

Covering Florida

http://www.coveringflorida.org/

Georgia

Georgians for a Healthy Future

http://healthyfuturega.org/community-partner-resources/gear/gear-georgia-enrollment-assister-resource-network/

Hawaii

***

***

Illinois

Illinois Coalition for Health Access

http://www.ilcha.org/

Indiana

ASPIN Health Navigator

http://aspinhealthnavigator.org/

Iowa

Iowa Primary Care Association

http://www.iowapca.org/?page=112

Kansas

Cover Kansas

http://www.coverks.org/

Kentucky

***

***

Louisiana

Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana

http://lahealthcarenav.com/

Maine

Enroll 207

http://www.enroll207.com/

Michigan

Enroll Michigan

http://enrollmichigan.com/

Mississippi

Get Covered Mississippi

http://getcoveredms.org/

Missouri

Cover Missouri

http://covermissouri.org/

Montana

Cover Montana

http://covermt.org/

Nebraska

Enroll Nebraska

http://enroll-ne.org/

Nevada

Nevada Health Link

www.nevadahealthlink.com/

New Hampshire

Covering New Hampshire

https://coveringnewhampshire.org/

New Jersey

Cover NJ

http://www.covernj.org/

New Mexico

Be Well NM

https://www.bewellnm.com/

North Carolina

NC Get Covered

https://www.ncgetcovered.org/

North Dakota

Get Covered North Dakota

http://www.getcoverednorthdakota.org/

Ohio

***

***

Oklahoma

Oklahoma ACA Enrollment Awareness Project

https://www.facebook.com/Oklahoma-ACA-Enrollment-Awareness-Project-271208623389573/

Oregon

Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace

http://healthcare.oregon.gov/marketplace/Pages/index.aspx

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Health Access Network

http://pahealthaccess.org/

South Carolina

Signup SC

http://signupsc.palmettoproject.org/

South Dakota

Get Covered South Dakota

http://www.getcoveredsouthdakota.org/

Tennessee

Get Covered Tenn

http://www.getcoveredtenn.org/

Texas

Cover Texas Now

http://www.covertexasnow.org/

Utah

Take Care Utah

https://takecareutah.org/

Virginia

Enroll Virginia

http://www.enrollva.org/

West Virginia

West Virginians for Affordable Health Care

http://www.wvahc.org/

Wisconsin

Covering Wisconsin

http://www.coveringwi.org/

Wyoming

Enroll Wyoming

https://www.facebook.com/enrollwyo/

 

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