Grants Available to Help the Community Enroll in Health Insurance
This article was written by Jenn Whinnem of the Connecticut Health Foundation.
As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the State of Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate (OHA) has grant money available for community-based organizations to become certified Assisters who will help enroll Connecticut residents in health coverage. OHA expects to make approximately 300 grants.
A key component of the Assisters program is the focus on helping Connecticut become healthier and decrease its health disparities. There are hundreds of community-based organizations that could help their neighbors to get access to health insurance coverage. OHA is interested in applications from organizations that reflect Connecticut’s diversity of languages, faiths, cultures, ethnicities, educational backgrounds, and incomes.
I was struck by how critical the role of the Assisters will be when I attended a demonstration of the web portal for Access Health CT, the name of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange. The web portal designers have done a good job thus far of creating an attractive platform for consumers to enroll in health insurance plans, be it Medicaid or a commercial plan.
During the demonstration, the facilitator walked the audience through the enrollment process, which got especially tricky once consumers were offered available plans to choose from. The good news is that there was a lot of choice. The difficulty was comparison shopping. When comparing plans, consumers have to do at least four things at once:
- Estimate how much health care they think they will consume over the course of a year
- Compare premium costs
- Balance those costs with cost-sharing costs (eg, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance)
- Understand the implications of the cost-sharing model they select
Enter the Assisters. An organization certified as an Assister will have the training, knowledge, and cultural competence to confidently walk people through the process of enrolling in insurance through Access Health CT. (OHA is managing the Assisters program under an agreement with Access Health CT.)
The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) sees the ACA’s expansion of coverage as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance health equity for people of color. Being continuously enrolled in a high-quality health plan affords the chance for all of us to achieve optimal health.
Under the ACA, getting enrolled into a plan is the first hurdle on the way to better health. The more diverse the organizations who become Assisters, the better chance we as a state have to getting as many people as possible health coverage.
CT Health is proud to work with the diverse partners that we do, and we would ask that you pass on this tremendous opportunity to advance health equity in our state. While we won’t be involved in the grant decisions, if you meet the eligibility criteria and have relationships with people who are uninsured, you are well positioned and should apply.