Leadership Circle’s focus zooms in on those eligible for subsidies

Leadership Circle

Part of the Leadership Circle includes (l-r), co-chairs Gordon McHenry Jr. and Tom Gibbons, Dr. David Fleming M.D. and Daphne Pie of PHSKC.

As organizations across King County have been preparing for the big push before the major deadline of March 31, key strategic ideas have been hashed out by the King County Healthcare Enrollment Leadership Circle.

Members of the Leadership Circle are appointed representatives from the local business, health and non-profit sectors, who have committed to enrollment outreach.

Their winter meeting focused on the progress of the Washington Healthplanfinder,  sharing successful strategies and how to fine-tune approaches for the remainder of the year.

The good news is more than 120,000 King County residents have enrolled in the new health care plans. Yet, in some income brackets a smaller number of the uninsured have been signing up.

The eligible yet uninsured

The committee focused on individuals who are eligible for “qualified health plans” (with incomes higher than those eligible for Apple Health/Medicaid), since fewer in this bracket have enrolled. Many in this segment are young adults (ages 18-34) who qualify for subsidies but haven’t yet enrolled in the health exchange, as David Fleming, M.D., Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County, told the committee.

Fleming noted a few of the larger demographic groups in this population of uninsured:

  • 17% work in the food service industry
  • 12% are employed in sales positions
  • 39% are non-English speakers, including 20% whose primary language is Spanish.

Successful outreach methods so far

The Leadership Circle offered ideas for reaching these groups through social  and traditional media, in-person assistance and enrollment events. Several of these are in progress. The Restaurant Association began raising awareness about insurance enrollment in the food industry last fall. And local hospitals say staff have been busily registering uninsured patients for health coverage.

Further suggestions to boost enrollment

The Leadership Circle’s other ideas for outreach included:

  • highlighting how affordable insurance is a pocketbook issue that affects many lower-income families
  • harnessing the enthusiasm of young activists involved in organizations like AmeriCorps and Teach for America to motivate their uninsured peers
  • appealing to parents to talk to their adult children about insurance, perhaps even offering to pay for it
  • doing outreach at locations where young adults are engaging in potentially risky behaviors (the county hosted a successful enrollment event for Stevens Pass staff this December, and Healthplanfinder is currently a presence at hockey and roller derby events)

Many of these creative outreach efforts are already underway, while others will be explored as we move into next fall’s enrollment period.

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