Outreach & Enrollment
Personal contact has been a cornerstone outreach strategy of the Community Health Center movement since it began in the 1960s. Health Centers provide health services, information, and health insurance enrollment assistance to the communities they serve in safe and familiar environments such as Health Center medical, dental and behavioral health offices, schools, neighborhood stores, fields where seasonal migrants are working, and places where homeless individuals might gather.
It is important for all Missourians to know that high-quality, community-based, culturally sensitive, and affordable primary and preventive health care services are available at a Community Health Center near them. Health Center Outreach and Enrollment (O&E) staff play a large role in raising community awareness through outreach activities ranging from participation in school health fairs, to presentations for community organizations, to one-on-one conversations with neighbors who need information and assistance about their health and health care, to health insurance application and enrollment assistance.
MPCA’s Role in Outreach and Enrollment
Through leadership, training, technical assistance and consultation, MPCA assists Health Center staff with their outreach and enrollment efforts. More specifically, MPCA supports its member Health Centers in their outreach efforts by:
Helping Community Health Center O&E staff remain current and excited about their outreach work
Hosting the Outreach and Enrollment Network, staffed by Iva Eggert-Shepherd.
Facilitating communication and information sharing through a listserv, conference calls, site visits, and meetings.
Ensuring Health Center O&E staff have the knowledge and tools needed to explain health insurance options to their patients and their community.
Maintaining relationships and partnerships with state and national organizations to provide additional O&E support to Health Centers when needed. MPCA staff maintains membership/leadership roles in Missouri task forces, advisory and work groups related to O&E, Medicaid, rural health, and health equity.
Outreach and Enrollment Network
MPCA maintains an O&E staff listserv for sharing best practices, webinar and conference training announcements, and state and national policy updates. They develop and host regular meetings at MPCA for O&E staff. These meetings include presentations by subject matter experts and promote peer-to-peer learning and interaction.
Video How Do I Apply for Medicaid?: https://youtu.be/txlsrbRKKQc
Video How Do I Apply for Marketplace Coverage?: https://youtu.be/SwwXBfFAmWc
Video O & E Best Practices: https://youtu.be/2zXosaM9AU4
Video Helping the Unemployed/Furloughed: https://youtu.be/3fqyrqnkOL0
Video O & E Check In: https://youtu.be/7PXRPaznWLI
Special Populations, Health Literacy & Cultural Awareness/Sensitivity
MPCA provides learning opportunities for its members through face-to face meetings, as well as webinars and conference calls for topics related to special populations, health literacy and cultural awareness/sensitivity. All of these issues can affect patient/provider communication and access to health services, and can result in health disparities and inequities. MPCA also assists with revising documents and materials for easier reading by all patients.
MPCA’s HRSA-designated contact for “Special Populations” is charged with maintaining a basic understanding of the groups outlined in federal statute for Health Centers. These include the elderly, homeless, farmworkers, and public housing residents. Emerging special populations include veterans, patients who are limited-English proficient (LEP), and LGBT people. MPCA facilitates training and technical assistance on special populations for Missouri Health Centers.
Health Insurance Application Assistance and Education
For many years O&E staff have assisted patients with Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) applications, as well as other state, federal, and community programs. Since 2014 O&E staff across Missouri and the U.S have expanded their services to include the Health Insurance Marketplace. They play a critical role in identifying and assisting eligible-but-uninsured patients and consumers who might be eligible for this new coverage made possible through the Affordable Care Act. All Health Center staff assisting with Marketplace applications are Certified Application Counselors (CAC) and have completed federal training and been certified to assist consumers.
In addition to application and enrollment assistance, O&E staff are charged with providing education to newly-covered consumers to help them understand and properly use their health insurance. This is no small task since many of these consumers never had health insurance before Marketplace coverage became available.
Women and Minority Outreach Program
MPCA manages this program that has been funded by the MO General Assembly since 2000. The funding is intended to help reduce health disparities through increased utilization of preventive screenings/services and through enrolling eligible patients in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) coverage.
Helping the Homeless
Think outside of the box for outreach. Make Health Insurance education and outreach a part of your street outreach efforts. Set up a table at food pantries or soup kitchens, do the drive through food pantries or establishing a designated time and place in emergency shelters.
Group Power. Larger group settings might also be less intimidating for some and gives an opportunity to learn from others.
Spend time one on one. Initiating one-on-one helps people to feel empowered to ask questions. Create a private space to help raise trust and confidence. Take the time to explain how health insurance works, benefits, what’s needed to apply, dates in processing and who to contact for more information.
If at first you don’t succeed……it may take weeks or months before they are willing to engage in conversations before enrollment happens. Don’t give up! Important to build that relationship.
Don’t “sell” the Marketplace or Medicaid, sell what they have to offer. Start by finding out what services clients want or need, and then discuss how enrolling in health insurance can help. Explain about what it covers.
Discuss what’s new, and what’s now new. Some may not be familiar, may know by another name or have been denied. Consumers should know that there have been changes to Medicaid and things are different now but also explain that some things are the same.
Explain that applying has never been easier. Online, by phone going to your Federally Qualified Health Center for assistance where trained staff are there to help.
Skip the alphabet soup. Use familiar language and discuss what consumers already know.
Information is power. Supplying clients with as much information as possible can help them make informed, confident decisions but don’t overwhelm them.
“Have you heard of Medicaid or the Marketplace before?”
“It used to be that people were only eligible for Medicaid if they had kids or on disability and that has changed.”
“You have mentioned that you need to get your prescriptions filled but you can’t because you don’t have the money, so this program can help make that more affordable for you.”
“In the past, applying for benefits could be really complicated and time consuming. There have been changes that make the process for Medicaid/Marketplace much easier and we can probably do it all right now. I can help you through the entire process and you won’t have to go anywhere else.”
“I’m glad I was able to help you apply for Medicaid. Would you like to hear about other ways we can help you, such as seeing a doctor, applying for housing and SNAP (FS) benefits?”