It’s here. On January 1, major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the Health Insurance Marketplace were rolled out. Although, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, a shocking 62 percent of the public seems to think that it’s not completely rolled out yet and many say they don’t have enough information to understand how the law will impact their families.
For many of us working in hospital or provider communications and marketing, we’ve heard about the ACA and know it’s really important, but what do we have to do with it?
Here are a few tips for navigating your way around this hot topic:
- There are tons of resources available to help consumers navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace. Health and Human Services is awarding $67 million to train “Navigators” who can help consumers understand their options and recognizes more than 100 organizations as Champions for Coverage. If your organization is participating, a truly integrated communication plan, including local media coverage, can help get the word out.
- Consider having local Navigators or organization champions attend regular community events as an attraction to your booth or invite the public to meet with them at one of your facilities. Just think of all the opportunities to provide friendly and helpful information to people who might not have needed your services before. The intention is not to influence their choices (that’s illegal), but maybe they will choose a plan that includes your facilities if they get to know you.
- As more people rely on the Internet for their news, websites are becoming trusted communications resources for health news in our community. Consider including consumer-friendly information on your site that helps your audience better understand the ACA and how they can make sure they are covered to use your facilities.
- If the questions are rolling in by email, reply personally and make sure the right person gets back to them.
- Essentially, the ACA will be encouraging that reimbursement replace the traditional fee-for-service model with one that is outcome and performance-driven (source). Make sure that you stay on top of social media pages and review sites, like Yelp and Google, so you can quell negative posts.
- Ever get a medical question from a friend that has nothing to do with your role because they assume that you being in the industry qualifies you to be a doctor? Well, clinical staff feel the same way, especially when it comes to financial questions. Physician newsletters and employee communications present many opportunities for ACA information. Not only does their clinical performance affect reimbursement, but chances are a patient or neighbor has asked where they can sign up or how it will affect them. Empower them!
- Embrace the growing trend of tech mobility. If you have a navigational campus map app, drop pins on where to pick up a brochure or where they can speak to someone about the ACA.
We want to know! What other tips are working (or not working!) for your organization? How are you getting through to the more politically-charged folks in your community? Leave a message below or send a tweet to @christinesenke, and let’s help each other out.