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With the ACA in place, there is “greater consumer protection, peace of mind, and financial security” for those with health insurance.

Shawn Dhanak is the communications lead for Michigan’s chapter of Enroll America.

His duties focus on customers’ relations and “amplifying outreach to the community and broader

public via the media.” He manages the state’s Enroll America page, which is updated with news

concerning enrollment events and information about the ACA, as well as stories from consumers

who have recently been enrolled. Additionally, Shawn maintains Enroll Michigan’s social

media presence by tweeting and being active on Facebook. Shawn is also involved with

gathering– and keeping in contact with– volunteers for Enroll Michigan’s outreach programs

and enrollment events.

 

While currently the focus of Shawn’s organization has been on informing consumers

about Healthy Michigan, and facilitating enrollment for it, there is still an emphasis on educating

potential consumers about the regular insurance options available in new marketplaces. The

current focus on Healthy Michigan “doesn’t mean we’re not going door to door and holding

phone banks and educating people who are still most likely uninsured.” Enroll Michigan is

trying to get across to consumers important messages including the ongoing nature of enrollment

(for Healthy Michigan), the existence of special enrollment periods (in the event of a life-

changing circumstance), and the availability of tax credits.

 

According to Shawn, Enroll Michigan’s work was very successful in getting people to

sign up for an insurance plan during the first open enrollment period for the ACA. While

“Enroll America doesn’t actually do any of the actual enrollment- that is up to our partners:

federally certified application counselors and navigators,” the outreach programs have yielded

impressive numbers. Nearly 100,000 Michiganders have been educated about the ACA and

opportunities for gaining health insurance, and over 772,000 have been enrolled in an insurance

plan as a result of the outreach efforts (with roughly 259,000 Michiganders enrolling in Healthy

Michigan plans).

 

However, while there is cause for celebration, “there’s a ton more work to do,” Shawn

said. Major outreach efforts still need to occur in order to reach those who are currently

uninsured and educate them about their options. Also, lessons that were learned during the first

round of open enrollment need to be applied to this upcoming round in order to refine the

process of gathering and enrolling citizens. Educating the public is one of the biggest things, in

Shawn’s opinion, that needs to be emphasized during the second enrollment period, especially

about the fact that insurance is more affordable than ever thanks to the opportunity for tax credits

(something most unenrolled people know little about). Evidence to the affordability of these

new insurance plans is underscored by a recent survey revealing 80-90% of new insurance

holders are positive they can afford their monthly premiums. Another take-away from the first

round of enrollment is the importance of in-person assistance, as surveys have shown that there

is large desire for aid when filling out the online form to enroll in a health insurance plan.

Shawn was very positive about the effects the ACA has- and will have- on the health of

American citizens. He himself was greatly aided by the passage of the ACA, as due to a

“profound pre-existing condition,” his parents’ insurance company was going to kick him off at

the age of 24, and he would have had an extremely difficult time trying to find another insurance

company to take him on as a customer. Now though, thanks to the ACA, neither of those factors

is a barrier to Shawn having health insurance. With the ACA in place, there is “greater

consumer protection, peace of mind, and financial security” for those with health insurance.

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