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Demand for Health Coverage Enrollment Assistance Programs Remains Strong

Demand for Health Coverage Enrollment Assistance Programs Remains Strong

June 16, 2016

Assister helping client with health care enrollment

Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released the results of its annual survey of enrollment assistance programs nationwide. The report highlights the critical importance of, and on-going need for, enrollment assisters if states want to continue to build on, as well as sustain, gains in insurance coverage. You can read the report here.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • The need for in-person assistance remains strong and won’t go away any time soon.
    • An estimated 30,400 assisters helped about 5.3 million people during the third Open Enrollment period.
  • A majority of consumers lack confidence to apply for, or to select, coverage on their own.
    • About 8 in 10 assister programs said most to nearly-all consumers sought help because they lacked the confidence to apply for coverage and financial assistance on their own.
    • About eight in ten programs also said most-to-nearly-all consumers needed help evaluating their plan choices.
  • Enrollment assisters play a critical role in consumer health insurance literacy.
    • Most assister programs (61%) said most or nearly all consumers had difficulty understanding basic insurance concepts.
  • There is strong demand for enrollment assistance programs even outside of Open Enrollment.
    • Increasingly, programs are serving a mix of new and renewing consumers – evidence that consumers need help to remain covered, not just to enroll for the first time.

KFF’s report is clear - enrollment assisters are critical in ensuring people get and stay covered in health insurance coverage. Insurance marketplaces’ on-going investment in consumer assistance enrollment programs will help to increase enrollment and keep people covered.

Here in Massachusetts, there approximately 1,700 enrollment assisters, including 10 HCFA staff Navigators, trained and certified to help residents apply for free and lower-cost MassHealth and Health Connector coverage. If you, or someone you know, needs free health insurance help, please contact our HelpLine at 800-272-4232.

                                                                                     

                                                                                 - Kate Segel