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Help Americans With Rheumatoid Arthritis Get Health Insurance for 2019
New deadlines, shorter enrollment periods, misinformation, and fewer advertising dollars mean that many may miss the chance to get individual coverage. Here’s how to help close the information gap.
By Ana Gotter
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Anyone with a chronic disease knows how important it is to have good health insurance. When you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or another potentially disabling disease, it’s crucial to have access to medicine, therapies, hospitals, and specialists.
People Without Employer-Based Plans Can Stay Covered Through HealthCare.gov
Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, made decent coverage available to more people, it isn’t a given that everyone will gain access — especially since the open enrollment period for 2019 is both the shortest it’s ever been and ending sooner than ever before, running from November 1 to December 15.
5 Steps to Help Spread the Word About Health Insurance Enrollment
Fortunately, there are things everyone can do to chip in and help people, especially people with disabilities and chronic conditions, access health insurance in 2019:
1. Share Enrollment Details via Social Media to Fill the Information Gap
Many people aren’t aware that the open enrollment period runs from November 1 to December 15 of this year, and that’s not their fault. The government slashed the budget to advertise for enrollment dates, and enrollment periods have been open significantly longer — through January — in past years.
One of the best things you can do to help people access healthcare is to make sure they know when they need to sign up for it.
“The biggest challenge to people getting coverage for 2019 is not having the information they need," says Lori Lodes, cofounder of Get America Covered. “One out of ten people who are uninsured don't know that open enrollment starts on November 1, and a majority of people don't know that financial help is available to lower their monthly premiums. There's a lot of misinformation out there, so people are confused. The most important thing we can do is get the facts out to people."
Social media is a powerful force when it comes to sharing information. Post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn to remind your friends and followers of the enrollment dates, and provide a link to HealthCare.gov. In addition to the official #GetCovered hashtag, you can use visibility-boosting hashtags, like #CreakyJoints, #rheum, #CriptheVote, and #Spoonie, to increase the likelihood that people living with chronic conditions who use the marketplace will see it.
Share reminders in any online forums you participate in, and post information in any online support groups, like CreakyJoints and Arthritis Introspective. Ask friends to do the same.
2. Use Listserves to Reach Even More People
Reach out to listserves you’re on for local communities. Write a message informing people of the new enrollment dates and list some resources (see below) where people can find more information, and then share this to the groups.
Many discussion groups will allow you to post messages yourself, but some groups will require you to contact the leader and ask them to distribute the message. Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are a good place to get started.
3. Promote Get America Covered Resources With Old-School Flyers
Get America Covered is an organization that focuses solely on helping people get the coverage they need. It was founded by Lori Lodes and Joshua Peck, both of whom worked on the ACA in leadership positions at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
This organization has everything from fact-sheet flyers that you can post up in public places, to images you can use to help your social media posts get more attention.
"One of the things we are asking people to do," Lodes says, "Is to go out in their communities and hang up signs or make sure the library or local stores in your area have brochures. It's all about getting information out to the people who need it."
4. Reach Out to National Groups and Organizations
The Enrollment dates are the same throughout the country, so try to spread the message as far and wide as possible. Reach out to organizations that you may be connected to, like the Arthritis Foundation or the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), and ask them for a signal boost.
Additional organizations that may be happy to help reach individuals who aren’t eligible for employment-based coverage include:
- Alumni associations
- Trade and labor unions
- Professional organizations
- Local chambers of commerce
- Special interest groups
While some of these organizations may have local offices or chapters, outreach via social media is always a good option. Let the organization’s leadership know that you’re worried about people not having the information they need to get coverage, and ask them to help promote the open enrollment dates. Whether they send out the info in an email newsletter or a social media post, it could help more people get the message who would have missed it otherwise.
5. Share Tips About How to Get Help Applying for Health Insurance
In addition to the advertising budget for the ACA, the funds that are used to hire professionals to help customers sign up for plans on the marketplace were also cut back. Since navigating insurance selection can be stressful and complicated, it’s important that people know where they can go to get help.
People who need help can reach out to:
You can also recommend reliable sources for people to follow to stay up to date. This is particularly important since the political climate can cause sudden changes in the insurance marketplace.
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