The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Connector Entities (CEs) provide information and enrollment services to consumers across specific regions of the state. The Worcester County Health Department is the CE that serves consumers throughout Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester County. Its Lower Shore Health Insurance Assistance Program is dedicated to bringing health coverage services to residents in their region, including those who may have to contend with unique barriers to obtaining health coverage. Here are some of their creative approaches to reaching consumers that have proven successful:
- The Lower Eastern Shore CE has partnered with HOPE Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists the homeless population in their region, and Urban Ministries, which assists both homeless and low income residents. Every week, CE staff is onsite at these agencies providing healthcare enrollment services to their clients. The majority of these clients are Medicaid eligible, so this is a service that is provided year round.
- During this year’s open enrollment period, the Lower Eastern Shore CE worked with a county health department program that assists former inmates re-entering the community. After their release, a CE representative works with the re-entry program to meet with released individuals and assist with health coverage enrollment.
- In order to serve residents on the remote Smith Island area of the region, the CE is planning to hold an outreach day this summer to educate consumers about Maryland Health Connection and to prepare them for the next open enrollment period. They held an enrollment event on the island during open enrollment and coordinated transportation with the Coast Guard.
- During these last weeks of open enrollment, the CE is partnering with nonprofit agency SHORE UP! Inc., which provides free tax preparation services. CE staff will be onsite at tax preparation events to assist consumers in need of health coverage with enrollment.
- To reach unemployed and uninsured residents, CE staff are on hand every day at the local One Stop Job Market providing enrollment services. They also man an outreach booth in the job market welcome center and are available for after-hours appointments.
- Additionally, the local libraries in the Lower Eastern Shore region have the Maryland Health Connection link on their job center computers and outreach/information tables are present at highly attended library events.
MHBE applauds and appreciates the hard work of the Lower Shore Health Insurance Assistance Program and all of the other Connector Entities. Providing a means to health coverage for residents in these populations is not only a vital resource for individuals, but it can potentially have a far-reaching effect on the community. If people understand that no matter what their life circumstances may be, there’s help available for basic needs, such as health coverage, it can positively impact their families, their lives and the well-being of the entire community for generations to come.