Looking Back after Open Enrollment of the ACA
Our Reinforma sessions with clients have been very busy for the last three months. This project has focused on educating community members about the policies of the Affordable Care Act, how the new law affects them and their families, and what steps to take to enroll in health insurance if needed. Our job is to share with clients as much information as they need to keep them informed.
To complete these goals we’ve held many planning sessions, done extensive outreach in the community, and have set up multiple appointments for sessions in and outside the office. Once we met with clients, if they needed to enroll in the Marketplace we were able to make referrals to Certified Application Counselors through the Maine MIgrant Health Program and the Harrington Family Health Center who were able to assist clients in enrolling. Having connections with local assisters made the process run more smoothly.
Though we have seen successes from our efforts, we did see many challenges during the course of the process. Language barriers, time constraints, vocabulary, literature (in English and Spanish), decision making, and internet access were all barriers. Despite these, with extra language support and many materials in Spanish, we were able to ease some of the difficulties of understanding the new policies and procedures. For many clients, the idea of health insurance itself is new, so the entire process has been a learning process.
We also had good outcomes after a sessions where clients had a better understanding of the new Affordable Care Act policies and were able to make a choice of what kind of health care plan would better serve their health needs.
Though the first enrollment period is over, the work continues! Some individuals are able to continue enrolling through Special Enrollment Periods, and there is still a lot of information to share about the ACA as it moves through it’s first year. We are always available to answer questions, troubleshoot, and assist.