United Way Call Center to Serve as Local Information Hub for Uninsured in Kansas, Missouri


United Way 2-1-1 Call CenterIf there’s one thing that we learned after the first year of enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace, it’s that trying to reach all the eligible individuals and families with the information they need in order to enroll is a daunting task.

According to Gallup data gathered in August 2014, even after last year’s major initiative to educate about the health insurance options available to those who have a need, 17.6 percent of Kansans and 15.1 percent of Missourians are still uninsured and will face fines if they do not enroll during the upcoming 2014-2015 enrollment period.

Reaching out to the uninsured and improving people’s access to the health care they need has long been a priority focus for United Way of Greater Kansas City. Now with funding support from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, United Way 2-1-1 will be able to serve as the local information hub for people needing free help with marketplace enrollment in 2014-2015.

Local marketing materials will encourage residents to call the national hotline at 1-800-318-2596 or to dial 2-1-1 for free local resources to help with the enrollment process, updating information, or help with shopping for a new plan that fits their needs and budget.

United Way 2-1-1 is a free, confidential, easy-to-remember phone number that connects people to trained, caring call specialists who provide information and referrals to health and human service resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Last year, United Way 2-1-1 received more than 160,000 calls, and many of those callers were uninsured or underinsured.

During the upcoming enrollment period, United Way 2-1-1 call specialists will work with callers to increase awareness, educate them about the need to obtain health insurance and provide easier access to the help they need in completing their enrollment.

The Mid America Regional Council is another strong partner in this work. With funding support from HCF and the REACH Healthcare Foundation, MARC will coordinate an outreach campaign to raise awareness about open enrollment deadlines and where to turn for help. For more than a year, MARC has convened representatives of health care providers, community organizations and others who offer enrollment assistance. These partners have identified several key segments of the population that still have high percentages of uninsured, including Latinos, young adults, and those who work in industries where employer-provided coverage may not be available, such as food services and hospitality.

The outreach campaign will focus on three key dates: the November 15 kickoff for open enrollment; the December 15 deadline to enroll in order for coverage to start January 1; and February 15, 2015, which marks the end of the open enrollment.

Through partnerships with HCF, REACH Healthcare Foundation and MARC, United Way 2-1-1 can help people Get Covered and Stay Covered so we can all benefit from a healthy community.

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.


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