It’s been three years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, and a year since the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality. We’re finally preparing for enrollment in the Marketplace, and it’s coming with a unique set of challenges in Wisconsin.
Challenge #1: Too many people don’t know what the ACA is, or how it affects them.
Education about how individuals are affected by the ACA is essential to improving the rates of uninsured Americans. However, this is proving to be a difficult step in the process; according to a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, two-thirds of the uninsured and most Americans in general believe they do not have enough understanding of the ACA to know how it will affect them. (KFF) (Want a basic understanding of the ACA in Wisconsin? Here’s a factsheet).
From our experience as staff at the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, there is a large unmet demand for outreach and education in our state; most people want to know more about how health care reform helps them.
Enroll America is planning a media blitz this summer, but it will also take Wisconsin groups spreading awareness in order to reach uninsured Wisconsinites. (Part 2 of this blog “Enrolling in ObamaCare in Wisconsin” will cover these actions in more depth.)
Challenge #2: There is limited and late-in-the-game support from the state government in helping plan and fund education and enrollment.
While other states (such as California with its immense “Covered California” campaign) have undertaken efforts to prepare uninsured people for enrollment in the exchange, the Wisconsin administration has not been proactive in exchange creation or enrollment education. This preparation before October is essential to the success of the ACA and reducing rates of uninsured Wisconsinites.
Jason Stein writes in the Journal Sentinel, “everything from computer projects to consumer outreach… must be completed to expand coverage for the uninsured…. How well this implementation goes will have substantial effects on both the uninsured and state and federal taxpayers. But at the moment, this daunting job isn’t getting much attention.”
However, advocates and stakeholders have been working to ensure that the ACA is successful and reaches those Wisconsinites who need it. The uninsured population is difficult to reach, so it is essential that a wide range of access points are available. The coordination and support of advocates for low-income individuals and families, health advocates, clinics, hospitals, other medical providers, and family planning providers is necessary. If you’re interested in learning more about this state-coordination, and participating in the effort, contact us at info (at) wiawh.org .
Stay tuned for Enrolling in ObamaCare in Wisconsin: Part 2!