The role of in-person assistance was critical to the successful enrollment of consumers signing up for health insurance last year, according to Yale School of Public Health researchers.
Results of CARE’s evaluation of the consumer experience with the Access Health CT (AHCT), the state’s new health insurance marketplace, were presented to the board of directors, chaired by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman last Thursday.
[Photo: Ms. Alycia Santilli]
The multi-method study evaluated the enrollment process in underserved urban areas. “The role of in-person assistance stands out,” explained Ms. Alycia Santilli, assistant director of the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health in her testimony before the board.
AHCT trained assisters and navigators from non-profits and neighborhoods around the state to help consumers enroll into the insurance marketplace in 2013. The CARE survey found that in-person assistance provides critical service for consumers who found it difficult to navigate the telephone helpline and/or website. Consumers also found it easier to get and use information from person-to-person assistance by a wide margin.
The study also found that most of these urban consumers learned of AHCT through word of mouth rather than advertising and that they were unable to navigate the website on their own. There is also need for access to translators in languages other than Spanish in the state.
Community health workers who also testified before the board found that the trust that people had in their agencies was critical in fulfilling this role. Ms. Michelle Jimenez of Planned Parenthood of Southern Connecticut called the process “too complicated,” and explained that people needed help even learning what questions to ask.
“CARE’s data underscores the important role of culturally competent in-person assistance to those who are still not enrolled in the insurance marketplace. Despite shifts in funding for the second year of the program, it is critical that AHCT continue to foster this kind of outreach,” said Dr. Jeannette Ickovics, professor of epidemiology and director of CARE.
This study was funded by the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, Connecticut Health Foundation, and the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation.