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Health Law Enrollment Group Aims to Reach Wider Audience with Less Money

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

November 12, 2014 -- Enroll America, the advocacy group that helps consumers sign up for health law coverage, raised $20 million for outreach efforts this year, down from $27 million last year. The group’s president said the organization “will need to work even harder and smarter” than last year to reach consumers.

The sign-up period, which starts Saturday, is half as long as the one for 2014. Many of the uninsured are harder to find. Federal and state officials also will be renewing coverage for consumers during open enrollment season because insurance bought through the marketplaces ends on Dec. 31.

Enroll America President Anne Filipic said Wednesday that even with the lower fundraising total and the new challenges, she expects the group to reach more people through targeted approaches. It will spend less time knocking on doors and making phone calls in favor of working with small businesses, and talking to owners, customers and workers.

“Based on what we learned last year, we are able to use those dollars more effectively,” said Filipic on a call with reporters.

She also noted that funding has come from an expanding list of organizations, with growth on the state and local level. That mirrors a similar trend in the implementation of the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152), moving from a national effort to one that is taking shape on the community level.

About 66 percent of Enroll America’s funds came from philanthropies, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Another 17 percent was from hospitals with a similar share from other health industry groups and individuals. Donors include the American Hospital Association, Ascension Health, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Blue Shield of California, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, Catholic Health Initiatives, the Colorado Health Foundation, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Houston Endowment, Independence Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and the Kansas Health Foundation.

Since the end of the first open enrollment period in April, the number of groups partnering with Enroll America has almost doubled, said Filipic.

One new tool that Enroll America is offering this year is an online appointment scheduler that will allow people in 14 states to reserve time with trained helpers who can walk them through the health care enrollment or renewal process. Organizations that help sign people up, such as community health centers and Planned Parenthood, have to pay what Filipic called “a nominal fee” to activate an icon on Enroll America’s website that will let consumers schedule an appointment.

However, in other states, the tool only provides contact information for local groups that help with enrolling. That function is similar to a feature on, the federal enrollment website, that identifies local groups that can help.

Filipic acknowledged that the upcoming enrollment period will be challenging for supporters of the law.

“What actually worries me more than anything is how consumers could easily by confused by all the different messages out there,” said Filipic. With messages aimed both at those whose coverage needs to be renewed and , with some information targeting people whose coverage needs to be renewed and others targeting the still uninsured, Enroll America “put a ton of effort this summer and fall into developing streamlined messages that allow us to reach all consumers.”

Filipic’s concerns about a barrage of messages could be overcome if different groups work together to keep information simple.

“The reality is the policy behind the scenes is a little complicated but the messaging can be pretty straightforward,” said Filipic.

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