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Five Days Left Means We Can Leave Nothing On The Sidelines

Big news – there are only five days left of open enrollment. That’s right, you only have five days left to find a health care plan for 2018. The good news is, you’ve got time and there are quality, affordable options out there for you. In fact, 8 out of 10 consumers can find a plan for less than $75 per month.

More good news – it looks like lots of your friends and peers have already signed up. In fact, the enrollment numbers so far this season are even outpacing this point last year. But we know that despite this there are still major challenges we’ve faced this season that just aren’t going to let us reach the same number of people. Earlier this year the Trump administration decided to substantially cut federal funding for both the Federal Marketplace Navigator organizations and the ACA open enrollment public awareness campaign. Coupled with a premature shortening of the open enrollment window by forty-five days, these changes resulted in nationwide decreases in outreach education capability and capacity for in-person enrollment assistance. As part of the professional outreach community, as Young Invincible’s National Training and Consumer Education Manager, I’ve been deeply concerned about the impact this would have on consumers who need health care, especially those that could be most adversely affected by the cuts this season – segments of the population with higher uninsured rates such as young adults and minorities.

In order to offset the unprecedented lack of support for health insurance access, we’ve all had to put forth a concerted effort to educate, assist and enroll consumers, particularly the most vulnerable, in health care coverage. To accomplish this, navigator organizations, advocates and volunteers alike have pooled together resources like never before to optimize outreach efficiency and effectiveness. This has not been an easy feat, but make no mistake about it, I personally have beared witness to the possibilities that these collaborative efforts can create.  I have seen the excitement from a young Hampton, VA resident that was told that, through the federal marketplace, he could enroll in health insurance for the first time in his life, and for less than $20 per month. I have seen the thankfulness from a set of parents who work too few hours to qualify for employer-based insurance, yet make too much to qualify for Medicaid gain access to insurance through the ACA so that they can stay healthy for their children. These examples are merely a glimpse of the impact that we have been able to make by coming together to uplift each other.

Now, with less than one week remaining for the 2018 open enrollment period it is imperative that as community members we channel our efforts to the maximum extent. We must continue to utilize our partnerships and networks to push the message that enrollment assistance is available, that thanks to ACA’s tax credits health insurance plans are affordable, and most importantly, that there is no longer any time to procrastinate because the enrollment deadline of December 15 is upon us. So with that notion, I ask everybody to encourage family members and friends to get covered. And know that taking action can be as simple as helping somebody you know sit down at a computer and research where there are local assisters available to walk them through the enrollment process. Or it could be just spreading the word. The simplest acts can go along way in connecting an individual or family with health insurance that just might save their life.