As of Dec. 15, more than 9.7 million Americans have signed up for 2022 health care coverage thanks to a marketing campaign that utilized new funding from the American Rescue Plan to bolster communication strategies.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the health insurance marketplace, has been working on an extensive awareness campaign that both enhanced its public-facing HealthCare.gov and CuidadoDeSalud.gov portal websites and expanded its enrollment assistance programs.
“Thanks to our unprecedented outreach campaigns and investments from the American Rescue Plan, millions of people across the nation are gaining health insurance with lower premiums and more choices than ever,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release.
During this open enrollment period that began Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 15, CMS said its outreach effort included increased broadcast advertising and targeted digital efforts to reach people despite their access to technology, or lack thereof. This also included partnering with cultural marketing experts to deliver targeted campaigns to diverse communities via multiple languages.
Part of this strategy incorporates principles that data leader Acxiom sees as the opportunity for government to use data for the public good.
“With the massive amount of data now available, brands have the opportunity to use predictive analytics to enhance targeting and engagement possibilities,” according to an Acxiom report. “The ability to harness a broader range of insights while building on past techniques, including individual healthcare surveys and area-level census data, can improve the effectiveness of marketing designed for education and awareness just as easily as brand marketing.”
These data-driven insights could fuel efforts like the public health open enrollment period in reaching targeted consumers where they are.
“Marketers need to be armed with data that helps them understand target patients as actual people, not just as demo and geo attributes,” according to the Acxiom report. “By leveraging diverse data sets ... we can achieve deeper insights that can be applied across the full marketing lifecycle, from audience selection to measurement and optimization.”
Communication strategies and expanded reach have been key for not only reaching more people, but also for communicating crucial changes and other alerts. This includes anticipated changes around some states shifting to their own state-based health care marketplace platforms, for example.
CMS has also made updates around the enrollment experience. This includes updating the HealthCare.gov and CuidadoDeSalud.gov websites to provide for consumers to understand what the application steps are, where they are in the process and what they will need to complete it.
The updates also include new features that help consumers compare plans and find affordable coverage that suits their needs. Plus, the expanded navigator program offers both in-person and virtual assistance to help enrollees understand their benefits, review options and enroll in marketplace coverage. This has resulted in more consumers paying $10 or less per month after tax credits compared to this time last year.
"We have launched one of the strongest open enrollment periods — with lower prices and four times the number of assisters available to walk people through their coverage options," Becerra said.
CMS leadership touted the expanded programs as meeting parameters introduced in the upcoming President's Management Agenda.
“This additional funding supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s pursuit of health equity across the country,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in the press release. “Navigators play a key role in reaching underserved communities that historically have lower access to health care coverage and greater disparities in health outcomes. There is still time for those who need quality, affordable health care coverage to sign up at HealthCare.gov.”