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County health enrollment campaign spreads the word
An ambitious effort hit high gear this past week: aiming to enroll 180,000 King County residents in a new health insurance program.
On Friday more than 100 volunteers and staff members from Public Health – Seattle & King County spread out across the county to share information about low-cost health insurance options made possible by the Affordable Care Act and available through Washington Healthplanfinder.
This on-the-ground outreach launches a six-month enrollment campaign, a central part of King County Executive Dow Constantine's initiative for full enrollment.
"National healthcare reform presents an extraordinary opportunity, and one that must not be missed, to get those who are newly eligible signed up for affordable health insurance," said Constantine in a press release. "We're mobilizing an unprecedented community effort to connect people to effective preventive care early, rather than expensive treatment later."
The executive's 2014/2015 proposed budget includes one-time funding for three access and outreach workers to help enroll people who become eligible for free or low-cost health coverage on Oct. 1. In the longer term, these investments will save money.
"Thanks to this historic change, the lack of affordable insurance will no longer be a major cause of disease or poor health," said Dr. David Fleming, MD, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "When people have access to affordable health care, they can lead healthier, more productive lives."
Public Health – Seattle & King County is leading a broad network of partners—from the health sector, community-based organizations, the faith community, the business community, and county agencies— that joined the outreach effort.
The Coverage Is Here King County initiative will include:
• Expert in-person assistance: Public Health – Seattle & King County is serving as the Lead Organization in King County for the state's In-Person Assister program. Public Health has developed a network of 23 partner agencies to help people enroll in affordable health insurance. The network's approach will include geo-targeting to give special attention to communities with high numbers of uninsured people and working alongside organizations that have a strong presence in each community.
• Outreach throughout King County: Hundreds of enrollment events, hosted by Public Health and the partner organizations, will reach people at the neighborhood level. Four large enrollment events, beginning October 5, will include translators from several languages, and smaller events will target specific populations.
• Leadership Circle: Executive Constantine also has created a Leadership Circle from business, labor, education, healthcare, faith-based and community organizations to advise him on the enrollment initiative and to help shape outreach strategies. This is how private businesses can get involved.
• Reaching every customer the County serves: Every department and division within King County government will help spread the word about new, affordable insurance options. Each agency has been looking for ways to participate, within its normal business. For example, customer service windows and counters will share posters and enrollment flyers for Washington Healthplanfinder. Parents and families who arrive at Juvenile Court will find opportunities to enroll in health insurance, as King County Superior Court offers weekly outreach activities, plus two all-day outreach and enrollment days in October. The courts will also offer an outreach and enrollment day at the Regional Justice Center in Kent in November. Residents in unincorporated areas will hear about enrollment opportunities through the Community Service Areas Program, headed by the Department of Natural Resources and Parks. The City of Seattle has also engaged each of its departments in outreach, under the same strategy of reaching people where they live.
Beyond the expansion of healthcare coverage, thousands of people in King County are already benefitting from the Affordable Care Act:
• 736,000 people no longer face lifetime caps on their health benefits;
• 15,000 young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents' health plans;
• 368,000 people now have coverage for preventive care with no co-pays or deductibles; and
• 15,000 more people enrolled in Medicare are saving hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs.
For more information about getting enrolled in an insurance plan, visit http://kingcounty.gov/coverage.
-from a press release