This guest post is written by Linda Barry, MD
Lack of access to care is recognized as significantly contributing to health disparities. So enrolling people in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems like an easy and straightforward place to start. But despite being one of the most successful healthcare exchanges in the country, Connecticut’s Access Health CT lags behind in the enrollment of young people and people of color similar to other states. Healthcare coverage, particularly for the young, is not just insurance coverage for a catastrophic event; it is a long term investment in personal health.
Given the high rates of disparities seen in these two groups, why are they not rushing to sign up? The primary reason is cost. In a recent survey people reported not being able to afford monthly premiums, and the challenge is that most of the uninsured still do not know that financial help is available in the form of federal subsidies. These subsidies, however, will not be available after the March 31st deadline. So the clock is ticking to educate the public to enroll for affordable healthcare.
A coalition of Connecticut Health Leadership Fellows – Dr. Andres Barkil-Oteo, Kevin Galvin, Lawrence Young and myself, Dr. Linda Barry, are working with Health Justice CT to get the word out to promote healthcare enrollment on the state’s healthcare exchange. Our goal is to reach young and people of color using Twitter.
Why use Twitter? They are the most avid Twitter users, and Twitter allows us to easily engage, share and connect with this audience online.
We are planning to:
- Launch as thunderclap campaign: The “Get Covered CT Campaign” uses this crowd-speaking platform that will coalesce all the support we can gather from followers and of Connecticut “Influencers” which range from high profile public people to young people with a lot of friends to blast and amplify the message to increase enrollment in Access Health CT. We need 100 people to commit to promote the message via various social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
- Host a Twitter Town Hall: On March 25 from 2 to 3pm, Kevin Counihan, the CEO of Access Health CT will be taking questions live about the exchange and enrollment process during a Twitter Town Hall. By using the hastag #enrollCT, the public can get their questions answered and their comments addressed. For those new to the Twitterverse, here is a good guide for beginners.
- Live Tweet at enrollment fairs: Coalition members will be providing live updates on Twitter from a few Access Health CT enrollment sessions in the designated areas noted for the low enrollment rates. Personal stories can be more powerful than statistics. Look for our hastags – #AccesshealthCT, #getcoveredCT, #enrollCT.
We can’t do this alone. We need you to share your social media equity to create health equity. Together we can amplify our message to educate the public about ACA enrollment.
So we ask you to actively participate by:
- Committing to share their social equity via our “Get Covered CT” Thunderclap campaign.
- Participating with a friend in the Twitter Town Hall on March 25th from 2-3pm using #enrollCT.
- Encouraging those you know who are uninsured and uninformed to attend one of the many local enrollment sessions sponsored by Access Health CT.
- Following us on Twitter for more information and regular updates – Health Justice CT (@HealthJusticeCT), Dr. Andres Barkil-Oteo (@Andre06511), Dr. Linda Barry (@BhealthyMD), Kevin Galvin (@KGalvinSmallBiz), Lawrence Young (@HealthyLarry).
When the message is heard, reinforced and endorsed, we can affect change by facilitating more people to get health insurance coverage. This would be a positive step toward achieving health equity for all.
Linda Barry, MD is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at UConn Medical School and Chief Operating Officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at UConn. Connect with Linda on Twitter. Learn more about Linda here.
Images courtesy of Dr. Linda Barry