CHA News Article

Innovative Strategies Vital to Enrolling Vulnerable Populations in Health Coverage

CHA has launched a weekly series of strategies to help hospitals enroll patients in coverage through the Covered California marketplace and the Medi-Cal program. This week, the strategy focuses on helping vulnerable populations – including individuals who are homeless, have a mental illness or substance use disorder, or are undocumented – enroll in health coverage. Without such coverage, these hard-to-reach populations may use hospital emergency rooms as their primary care site or forgo treatment altogether.

Hospitals are encouraged to develop innovative strategies to reach these individuals. Ideas include using eligibility and enrollment services vendors to visit shelters and other places where homeless individuals gather, or giving individuals who are homeless taxi vouchers and bus tokens to get to public places where they can obtain the information required for an application.

For patients with mental illness or substance use disorders, hospitals might consider using financial counselors who are specifically trained to assist patients with behavioral health needs, including alcohol and other substance abuse. The counselors’ scope of responsibility may include driving to behavioral health facilities to obtain the patient’s coverage eligibility-related documentation.

This week’s strategy also notes the importance of reinforcing the bond hospitals share with patients and their communities, particularly in the wake of national debate on federal immigration policies. To assist hospitals in communicating with internal and external audiences, CHA has developed the Reassuring Our Communities Communications Toolkit, which includes background information and sample content in both English and Spanish.

As each enrollment strategy is published, it will be available at CHA’s dedicated web page.