In case you missed the November 24 AIDS.gov webinar, Health Insurance Marketplace Outreach and Enrollment for People At Risk for and Living with HIV, we wanted to share some highlights as well as links to related resources. During the webinar, Federal leaders discussed how the Affordable Care Act helps people at risk for or living with HIV or viral hepatitis and also shared resources to help participants reach out to and enroll individuals, particularly from communities of color, in coverage available to them through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
As webinar host Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, observed, “The Affordable Care Act and the expansion of coverage it makes possible is a very important tool for us as we work to achieve the life-saving goals of both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.” He underscored that 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period, now underway through February 15, 2015, is an important opportunity to ensure that those who obtained coverage through the Marketplace previously stay covered and that we reach out to and enroll still more individuals who qualify for coverage.
Ms. Tamia Booker, Director of African American Outreach in the Secretary’s Office, noted that more than 1.7 million African Americans obtained health coverage during the first open enrollment period that concluded last spring. She observed, however, that many African Americans still are not covered and therefore not able to access important health services like HIV screening or care. She invited webinar participants to support Marketplace outreach and enrollment in African American communities and highlighted three ways to do so by:
- joining in enrollment events being organized by HHS in cities with a high number of uninsured African Americans;
- applying to become a Certified Application Counselor organization to help individuals seeking in-person assistance with enrollment; and/or
- participating in social media events such as ACA Twitter Wednesdays with African American organizations using #AfAmHealth or monthly ACA education webinars with African American organizations.
Similar efforts to reach Latino communities with information about open enrollment were highlighted by Ms. Jeanette Contreras of the CMS Communications Office. The Healthcare.gov site is available in Spanish at Cuidadodesalud.gov, she noted, however, “as with many of our minority communities, Latinos often prefer to get their information and assistance from trusted sources within their communities, such as churches or schools.” For this reason, she explained, healthcare.gov and cuidadodesalud.gov both feature a “Find Local Help” search tool to help users locate in-person assistance. To help ensure that linguistically and culturally competent assistance is widely available, she encouraged HIV stakeholders who serve Latino clientele to consider applying to become Certified Application Counselor (CAC) organizations.
Dr. Laura Cheever, HRSA’s Associate Administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau, discussed some of the activities underway within the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to support the transition of Ryan White clients and integration of programs into the Affordable Care Act environment. She noted that Health Insurance Marketplace outreach and enrollment is a key year-round activity for the Ryan White Program as they support grantees who are working with clients to vigorously pursue enrollment in coverage through Medicaid or health insurance available in the Marketplace, if the client is eligible for either of those. She highlighted a number of HRSA-supported technical assistance activities [PDF 101K] that are underway to support Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grantees, providers, and AIDS services organizations as the ACA is fully implemented.
Reminding us of the larger context of all these outreach and enrollment efforts, Ms. Eva Margolies, Associate Director for Planning and Policy in CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, highlighted how a number the ACA’s provisions are supporting efforts to achieve the goals detailed in both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. She pointed to the prohibition on insurance coverage denials for people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV or viral hepatitis as well as the coverage of certain preventive services without co-pays, noting that this now includes hepatitis B vaccination, and screening for both HIV and hepatitis C.
In the question and answer period that followed, the presenters were able to field a number of questions posed by webinar participants and direct them to various resources for more information.
To learn more, visit the AIDS.gov Webinars page where you can listen to an audio podcast of the webinar, view the slides [PDF 1.98MB] that accompanied the presentations, and read a transcript [PDF 113KB].