Bill Forbes is being honored as an Affordable Care Act Champion of Change.
All public service volunteer activities have the potential to be highly rewarding. It’s particularly gratifying, though, when one’s volunteer work addresses the underlying cause of an important societal need. That’s how I see my work with Get Covered America. The mission of GCA is to encourage uninsured Americans and legal residents to get enrolled in a health insurance plan through the Healthcare Marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.
The primary objective of the ACA is to bring the benefits of health insurance to a larger fraction of Americans, in particular to those living in poverty or near poverty. Without health insurance, families already struggling to achieve economic security could be overwhelmed by health care costs at any time.
Get Covered America focuses its efforts on outreach and education. In partnership with a wide spectrum of educational, religious, and service organizations, we reach out to the uninsured with information about their options for high-quality, affordable health insurance under the Healthcare Marketplace.
Among the uninsured, lack of knowledge about the provisions of the ACA is a major barrier to getting enrolled. A study commissioned by Get Covered America conducted shortly after the first Open Enrollment period found that only 26% of those who did not enroll were aware that the law gives financial help in the form of tax subsidies to low- and moderate-income Americans. The study found that only 28% of those who did not enroll were aware that free in-person enrollment assistance was available and that less than half who did not enroll knew that health plans cannot deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
We provide that information and more to individuals we meet at public events, at schools, at houses of worship, and through our many partner organizations, including health institutions and social service groups. In addition, we refer these individuals to the various local agencies that provide in-person enrollment assistance. One of the hallmarks of our program is follow-up, by phone and email, with the people we meet who express a need and desire to get enrolled. Working with GCA, I have found that follow-up beyond the initial contact very significantly increases the likelihood that an individual will complete the enrollment process.
It is a source of tremendous satisfaction for me and the many other GCA volunteers and staff to know that the lives of many of the people we help will be improved in concrete and long-lasting ways.
Bill Forbes is a volunteer with the Get Covered America campaign.