The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) third annual open enrollment period kicked off November 1st and continues through January 31, 2016. During this time, individuals can enroll or renew coverage in qualified health plans through state and federal exchanges. The ACA’s open enrollment period is a great time to focus on reaching and enrolling children as well as their parents and other eligible adults. Research shows that parents who are enrolled in health coverage are more likely to enroll their children in coverage.
Although, very few children obtain their coverage through exchanges, as they are predominately enrolled in employer sponsored insurance or are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (for which enrollment is open year round), open enrollment is a good time to remind families about the public and publicly subsidized coverage available for their children. By capitalizing on the current increased attention on health coverage, there are steps states can take to make sure children are part of outreach, enrollment and retention efforts.
NASHP recently published an issue brief that shares state strategies for reaching, enrolling, and retaining children in coverage during early implementation of the ACA. The promising practices discussed in the brief were surfaced during work with NASHP’s Children in the Vanguard network which, since 2011, has brought together teams of state Medicaid and CHIP officials with child health advocates to work together to advance child’s coverage. Many of the promising practices included in the paper are the direct result of the strong working relationships established between state officials and advocates.
State teams took creative approaches to maintain a focus on children’s coverage, and their strategies emerged in themes:
- Targeting outreach efforts to specific populations
In Ohio, Medicaid officials engaged underserved minority communities to reduce enrollment barriers.
- Engaging and educating new partners
Rhode Island child health advocates developed a business process plan to engage partners, such as WIC offices, in a new Medicaid and CHIP renewal process.
- Keeping children enrolled in coverage
In Washington, officials created a streamlined renewal form for Medicaid and CHIP, and the state has seen its retention rate for family, children, and pregnancy Medicaid cases increase from 84 percent before 2014 to 91 percent today.
For more examples of ways state officials and advocates are working together to advance children’s coverage, read Promising Practices in Reaching, Enrolling, and Retaining Children in Coverage During Early ACA Implementation.