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Health Insurance Exchanges: Addressing outreach complexities

Health Insurance Exchanges (HIX), the online health insurance marketplaces are scheduled to dot the U.S. healthcare landscape by January 1, 2014. While the exchanges are expected to improve access to care for millions of individuals, the model can only be a success if the health insurance exchanges see projected number of exchange enrollments.

A primary determinant for exchange enrollments depends on how effectively states can spread awareness about the exchange & its inherent benefits among various communities.

One primary reason, why the healthcare has been inaccessible to several communities is unawareness about available health options & benefits and lack of community health support navigators that can guide individuals on the necessity of health coverage and available insurance options. States that manage to educate such communities on the benefits of health insurance exchanges and what health benefits individuals can enjoy after participating in the exchange, are likely to see increased enrollments in their exchanges.

To build a strong and expansive healthcare outreach network, health exchange administrators can seek the help of hundreds of insurance brokers & agents. Until President Obama’s health care reforms, the brokers & agents operated as the most common medium between individuals, small business & health insurance providers. Most of the insurance brokers & agents enjoy deep and long relationships with their customers. Through the well-established network of agents, brokers, community workers, exchanges can easily ensure that the communities located in far reaches of the State know about the Health Insurance Exchanges and what it entails.

In a recent study, it was identified that most individuals of the ethnic & culturally diverse communities were unaware of the Affordable Care Act or had heard very little about the Act & Health Insurance Exchanges. One factor that aggravated this mass unawareness is limited English proficiency and lack of available healthcare related news & data in native languages.  Some environmental fears and confusion about healthcare & health insurance exchange eligibility etc. contributed largely to the lack of awareness on the healthcare reform & exchanges.

The people with limited English proficiency comprise of around 12.5% of the entire U.S. population and States may not be able to pull in these individuals into health care exchanges, unless strategic steps were incorporated to address the language and other enrollment barriers, these individuals faced. Availability of insurance forms in native language, assistance from community health workers that operated locally among these communities & exchange enrollment assistance from bi-lingual exchange navigators etc., can have a dramatic positive impact on getting these communities enroll in exchanges.

Health Insurance Exchanges were proposed to make healthcare accessible to all, but a large portion of this plan depends on devising an effective outreach strategy. This will ensure that irrespective of language or regional barriersScience Articles, individuals were able to get themselves & their families covered under the health insurance exchanges.

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Author is a well known authority on health insurance in the US. He is currently looking to expand his expertise in Private health exchanges and health care software.

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