KHN: Rural Enrollment Presents Continuing Health Law Challenges

By Shefali Luthra

his KHN story can be republished for free. (details)

Americans living in rural areas will be a key target as states and nonprofit groups strategize how to enroll more people in health law insurance plans this fall.

Though millions of people signed up for private insurance or Medicaid in the first year of the Affordable Care Act, millions of others did not. Many live in rural areas where people “face more barriers,” said Laurie Martin, a RAND Corp. senior policy researcher. Brock Slabach, a senior vice president at the National Rural Health Association, said “the feds are particularly concerned about this.”

Distance is one problem: Residents have to travel farther to get face-to-face assistance from the so-called navigators and assisters hired to help consumers figure out the process. And Internet access is sometimes spotty, discouraging online enrollment.

But the most significant barriers may stem directly from state decisions about whether to expand Medicaid eligibility — more than 20 states chose not to — and whether to operate their own health exchanges. States that embraced those parts of the law generally had more federal resources as well as funds generated by their online marketplaces for outreach efforts to boost enrollment, including those aimed at consumers in less accessible areas, and more coverage options, through Medicaid, for which these consumers might be eligible.

Continue reading here: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2014/September/08/Rural-enrollment-presents-challenges-for-health-law.aspx

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
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