“Enroll Kalamazoo is a collaborative effort to improve access to healthcare through the coordination of education and outreach activities. Formed in November, 2013, the organization provides coordination for community agencies engaged in education and healthcare enrollment activities related to Health Insurance Marketplaces and Medicaid Expansion.
Enroll Kalamazoo partners include Bronson Healthcare, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse, Kalamazoo Health & Community Services, Senior Services, Family & Children Services, Comstock Community Center, Family Health Center of Kalamazoo, Ministry with Community, Borgess Health, 211, United Way, Western Michigan University, CARES, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, Sindecuse Health Center, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Portage Public Library and Planned Parenthood.”
Kalamazoo County, located in Southwest Michigan, is formed by the cities of Kalamazoo, Galesburg, Parchment, Vicksburg, and Portage, and townships including Comstock, Alamo, Charleston, Oshtemo, and Schoolcraft.Â The 561 square miles are home to over 256,000 people, with the major ethnic distributions being about 80% white, 22% black, and 4.6% Latino (US Dept. of Commerce, 2014).Â The city of Kalamazoo, comprised of about 25 square miles and about 74,000 people, is full of rich history, art, and education opportunities including the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship and higher education options such as Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
Healthcare in Kalamazoo:
The two main hospitals in Kalamazoo County are Bronson Methodist Hospital and Borgess Medical Center.Â According to data collected from 2004 to 2005, 13.6% whites in Kalamazoo County said they had fair or poor general health while 18.1% of blacks agreed with this statement (p. 5, Wendt et al., 2010).Â 18.8% of hospitalizations in Kalamazoo in 2010 were classified as being potentially preventable (p. 70, Bronson Healthcare, 2013).Â According to Bronsonâ€™s Community Health Needs Assessment of Kalamazoo County in 2013, â€œhigh rates of these hospitalizations may be an indicator of a lack or failure of prevention efforts, a primary care resource shortage, poor performance of primary healthcare delivery systems, or other factors that create barriers to obtaining timely and effective careâ€ (p. 70, Bronson Healthcare, 2013).Â This, along with the fact that 13.2% of Kalamazoo residents had no health insurance in 2010 and 10.2% of residents in 2010 had no access to health care during the past 12 months due to cost, show there is a real need in Kalamazoo (p. 79-80, Bronson Healthcare, 2013).Â Better health care access and coverage in Kalamazoo could be the key to a healthier community and a brighter future.Â The Affordable Care Act may be the first step in addressing these issues.
Erin Knott, the Michigan state director for Enroll America, was very excited that the under the ACA, her organization was able to enroll 272,539 people in Michigan, and an additional 200,000 under the Medicaid expansion that Michigan chose to pass (Knott, personal communication, 5/6/14).Â She was also pleased to report that of those enrolled in Michigan, 29% were young adults, and that 50% of those young adults were able to get a plan for $50 or less a month.Â Knott credits many community leaders in churches, food banks, missions, and barber shops, courts in Wayne County, and elected officials across the state for helping get the word out and helping sign people up.Â Kalamazoo in particular had a huge amount of localized leadership to implement the ACA, compared to other Michigan cities (Knott, personal communication, 5/6/14).