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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

A blog by IllinoisHealthMatters.org

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The “Culture of Coverage:” How Illinois is making the Health Insurance Marketplace Work

On March 29th, Illinois submitted an outreach and enrollment plan to the federal government, a requirement for all states participating in a state-federal partnership health insurance exchange. In the proposal, the marketplace team explains that they plan to treat outreach and enrollment like a political campaign, working not to elect a candidate but instead to introduce a new “health culture” to Illinoisans who have traditionally been excluded from coverage. The campaign will launch full-force in July in order to address skepticism and the general lack of awareness around the Affordable Care Act before enrollment begins on October 1st of this year.

Campaign values:
Illinois faces a variety of challenges, including limited English proficiency and low literacy rates, which make the task of reaching and enrolling certain populations of residents difficult. 78% of uninsured adults and 83% of the Medicaid population are unaware of insurance options under the ACA. To insure that Illinois is successful in promoting awareness of the Affordable Care Act, the marketplace team’s work will be guided by the following principles:
  1. Promotion of a State-wide Culture of Coverage; 
  2. Empowerment of Community-Based Organizations and Stakeholders; 
  3. Metric-Focused Encouragement of Enrollment; 
  4. Promote Health Care as a Value; and 
  5. Build a Strong and Trusted Reputation Among All Residents. 
Campaign strategy:
Based on the assumption that many Illinoisans aren’t aware of their options, the marketplace team will hire a professional marketing firm by the end of May. This firm will work to create a cohesive brand that speaks to target populations while establishing the Illinois marketplace as a trusted entity and something that residents will want to participate in. This media campaign will consist of television, print, outdoor, direct mail, online, and social media advertising.

The field program:
While the exchange branding is no doubt important, the marketplace team recognizes that empowering community partners to assist in the outreach and enrollment process may be the most effective way to achieve a “culture of coverage,” as these community partners are already known and trusted entities. This collaboration, titled the “field program,” will focus on the “4 E’s:” Engage, Empower, Educate, Enroll.

Staffing structure:  
Illinois will be divided into 8 “Outreach Regions,” which will be constructed geographically and by information around where the uninsured in Illinois reside. Each region will be headed by an Outreach Coordinator, who will report to the Director of Outreach & Consumer Education.

In order to assist with enrollment, three categories of assisters will be established. Similar training must be undergone in order to qualify for each category. The assister categories are as follows: 
  1. Navigators: part of a federally-run assistance program 
  2. In-Person Counselors: a state program that will coordinate with Regional Outreach Coordinators. Selected entities are expected to spend one year as assisters. 
  3. Certified Application Counselors: Additional national funding for individuals who aren’t funded through grant money.
It’s coming…
The marketplace team is already working hard to make sure the health insurance marketplace works in Illinois. In the meantime, click here to check out the full Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace Outreach & Education Plan!

Kathryn Bailey
Health & Disability Advocates


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