This policy brief aims to inform rural hospitals, health systems, policy and program decision-makers, and other stakeholders about the best practices for successful enrollment, as identified by 11 rural hospitals in nine states nationwide.
Based on their experiences during the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period, five of 11 surveyed rural hospitals reported positive outcomes likely related to their enrollment success: decreases in proportions of self-pay / uninsured patients, charity care, and/or bad debt. Of the remaining six hospitals, one reported no significant changes and five had not yet begun to assess the consequences of their efforts.
Key strategies and approaches highlighted by the 11 hospitals included the following:
- Designate a project manager to handle open enrollment who can dedicate time to it.
- Leverage partnerships with local organizations to boost enrollment, resources, and referrals.
- Get involved with planning groups and committees at state and regional levels to see what is and is not working at other facilities.
- Pursue a multi-faceted, targeted approach in outreach and marketing efforts.
- Employ Certified Application Counselors (CACs) and make them as accessible as possible.
- Use names of state marketplaces or generic terms rather than “Obamacare.”
This project also included in-depth case studies of two of the 11 hospitals profiled in the policy brief: Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital, in Irvine KY, and Bay Area Medical Center, in Marinette WI.