"Coverage for all, paid for by all" is one of the five pillars of Health for Life, a roadmap for improving America's health care system developed several years ago by the American Hospital Association board of trustees. This fall, we're one step closer to that goal, as more than 25 million uninsured Americans are expected to begin gaining coverage through a combination of public programs and private-sector health insurance expansions.
A six-month open enrollment period for the new health insurance marketplaces begins Oct. 1. In addition, many states have expanded eligibility for their Medicaid programs.
But people won't enroll if they aren't aware of the new coverage options. That's why it's critical for all community stakeholders, including hospitals, to help make the enrollment process easy, accessible and widely available.
Thousands of individuals and families, many of them uninsured or underinsured, pass through hospital doors each year. Hospitals can help these individuals learn about and apply for coverage and financial assistance available through the new marketplaces and such programs as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
The AHA has compiled resources on its new "Get Enrolled" page at www.aha.org/getenrolled. There, hospital leaders will find resources to help them navigate the new marketplaces and Medicaid and CHIP enrollment.
Resources include links to AHA-prepared advisories on the new marketplaces and insurance-related rules, as well as a special Member Advisory that outlines the ACA's coverage opportunities and describes the roles hospitals can play in making coverage a reality for uninsured Americans. Leaders also will find links to federal government and other resources on marketplace enrollment and outreach, as well as state-specific resources, including consumer information brochures in many languages. The Web page will be updated regularly as new resources become available.
Coverage is coming — but we have to help make it happen.
Katherine Keene (firstname.lastname@example.org) is COG chair and a trustee of Salem (Ore.) Hospital.