Friday, September 16, 2011

Enroll America wants you to know about ACA's health coverage

A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization has been created to help those of us without health insurance understand how to apply for coverage, in compliance with the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The launch of Enroll America was announced on Wednesday, September 14, via teleconference. As long as the new organization doesn't drown in bureaucracy or get bogged down in politics, which wouldn't be surprising, since it is composed of organizations that have both opposed and supported the ACA, it should prove to be extremely helpful.

According to a memo on the Grantmakers in Health website (, Enroll America is a collaborative effort on the part of consumer organizations, (such as those representing children, early retirees, and racial and ethnic minorities), and health care industry stakeholders, (including representatives of hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical companies, and community health centers), to ensure that Americans with low-to moderate incomes receive all the benefits they're entitled to from the health care reform legislation. An earlier memo indicated that Enroll America would be launched in September 2010, so the announced launch is a year later than originally anticipated.

Organizations on board so far are major players such as Aetna, Express Scripts, the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Families USA, whose former deputy director of health policy, Rachel Klein, is to be Enroll America's executive director. A public information campaign is slated for 2013 and 2014.

Those consumer and health industry organizations have, in turn, established a Best Practices Institute, which will give various state-based and community-based organizations technical and collaborative assistance.

Enroll America has clarified that optimal features making up each state's enrollment system should include the following:
  • Medicaid and subsidy applications should be short and simple, and available in multiple languages;
  • Applications should be available for submission online;
  • Eligibility should be verifiable using existing databases, that would have documentation already submitted for either other means-tested programs, such as food stamps, or for Social Security or IRS matters, so that applicants would most likely not have to bring in pay stubs or other paperwork;
  • Because some people might have difficulty understanding if they are eligible for either Medicaid or coverage through the exchanges, they should be able to fill out just one application in order to enroll; and
  • Enrollment periods should be reasonably long (12-month periods) so that it is not necessary to file frequent renewal applications.
The new organization is planning to conduct webinars and teleconferences with regard to relevant federal regulations, and to inform state-based organizations about other states' successful enrollment models. Enroll America had originally stated that it was hoping to obtain financial resources via interest group contributions and philanthropic grants, and it has announced that it has already raised $6 million.

For more information. For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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