Aligning Vaccine and Enrollment Efforts to Maximize Reach
Alison Kruzel and Alexander Chavers, GMMB
With the passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), more people than ever before are eligible for financial help to pay for a health insurance plan. Estimates are that on average, 4 out of 5 customers can now find a health plan for less than $10 a month—a remarkable step to provide more affordable coverage, for more Americans. To promote these significant savings, Marketplaces are launching integrated and innovative outreach campaigns—including tapping into existing public health and COVID-19 vaccination efforts—to reach residents with this important information and get them enrolled.
As vaccine distribution is increasingly going local, state marketplaces are tapping into trusted partners like local community centers, faith groups, and small businesses as well as coordinating with state and federal agencies to combine education and outreach to drive enrollment.
And as vaccine outreach efforts prioritize reaching communities of color, Marketplaces are ensuring these same individuals also learn about increased savings available through the ARP and are linked to enrollment help.
As Marketplaces look for ways to ensure equitable outreach and enrollment, especially as our nation recovers from COVID-19, we are seeing a range of communications and outreach strategies to align with vaccine education and distribution.
Coordinating with federal, state and local agencies and organizations to reach residents
Several Marketplaces have worked with state and federal agencies to promote enrollment through vaccine distribution efforts. For example, beWellnm, New Mexico’s state-based marketplace, partnered with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other FEMA affiliates like the City of Albuquerque to distribute educational information in care packages handed out to consumers after they received their COVID-19 vaccine. This included a flyer on new savings available through beWellnm and where to get free enrollment help, as well as an overview of the ways residents can get coverage and save in New Mexico. Additionally, beWellnm emailed flyers with cost-saving information to other vaccine sites, including drive thru centers, to print and share with consumers after they received their COVID-19 vaccine.
As vaccination efforts have gone local, Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-based marketplace, has tapped into these efforts to reach into communities that are disproportionally uninsured. Pennie teamed up with FEMA in May to distribute educational materials including flyers and palm cards, at the Philadelphia Center City vaccine site, which received more than 6,000 people per day.
Pennie is also partnering with the state YMCA to take part in its Health Equity Tour, with stops across all 67 Pennsylvania counties. In addition to sharing information on health insurance options through Pennie, each tour stop includes educational materials around COVID-19, oral health and water fluoridation resources, tips on how to combat senior social isolation, and more.
Whenever there is capacity, tour stops include vaccine distribution, which has drawn additional interest and attendance in counties like Dauphin, Lehigh and Northampton. At the event in Harrisburg, YMCA worked with Shades of Hope—an organization run by former NFL football player LeSean McCoy to distribute vaccines and generate buzz around the event. Pennie also conducts media outreach to promote each tour stop and ensures that a navigator is on site to schedule enrollments or complete applications on site. Pennie distributes information, including flyers and palm cards in English and Spanish that include information on ARP savings and how to enroll in health insurance for people who aren’t able to enroll on site.
Similarly, DC Health Link, the District of Columbia’s state-based marketplace, worked with the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs to distribute enrollment information at vaccine centers and food distribution centers. Also, the Marketplace and the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs jointly hosted a town hall conversation for the African immigrant community called “Get the Facts. Get Covered: Health Insurance Enrollment During COVID-19”. The town hall focused on the benefits of health coverage during the pandemic and provided consumers with the tools needed to access coverage through DC Health Link. It also included information about how to enroll, eligibility requirements, health plan options, and information about COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. The town hall was translated into Spanish, Arabic, Amharic, and French for DC’s African communities.
Raising awareness through vaccine clinic sponsorships
Connect for Health Colorado, Colorado’s state-based marketplace, is sponsoring vaccine clinics in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, including one with a community organization which helps women who have experienced domestic violence. The Marketplace provides food for volunteers, who in turn hand out information about Connect for Health Colorado, including branded sanitizers to encourage enrollment, to everyone as they check in. The Marketplace is also promoted ahead of the event through digital flyers and other communications.
Connect for Health Colorado also partnered with New Hope Baptist Church, Denver Health Medical Center, and Rising Star Baptist Church to sponsor vaccine clinics serving Black communities in Metro Denver. The Marketplace supported the creation of an electronic registration system, as well as food for volunteers. Connect for Health Colorado was promoted leading up to each event and branded sanitizers were distributed to individuals receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Supporting navigator referral efforts and vaccine outreach
MNsure, Minnesota’s state-based marketplace, is working with its navigator agencies, many of which are health clinics, or else connected with clinics, to generate enrollment referrals as people come in for vaccinations. If someone comes to the clinic for a vaccine, they are referred to a navigator if they need health insurance; similarly, if they come in to enroll in health insurance, they are asked if they require other services, like vaccines. MNsure also has had a successful partnership with a Somali-run navigator agency offering a vaccine clinic at critical locations across Minneapolis.
Using vaccination channels to promote enrollment allows Marketplaces to reach people when health is top of mind, and ensures we are prioritizing reaching those who are disproportionately uninsured with information on increased financial help—and the significant savings that can be realized because of the ARP. This coordination has forged connections between Marketplaces and public health agencies and built infrastructure and outreach models that can be leveraged beyond the pandemic.
 Fact Sheet: The American Rescue Plan: Reduces Health Care Costs, Expands Access to Insurance Coverage and Addresses Health Care Disparities, HHS.gov. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/03/12/fact-sheet-american-rescue-plan-reduces-health-care-costs-expands-access-insurance-coverage.html