More evidence that Obamacare outreach is working, even as the legislature keeps funding in limbo | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More evidence that Obamacare outreach is working, even as the legislature keeps funding in limbo

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

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Research results are in on the outreach campaign conducted by the Arkansas Insurance Department to inform Arkansans about new insurance options under the national health care law. The early returns show impressive leaps in awareness among uninsured citizens. 

An e-mail this week from local marketing firm Mangan Holcomb to AID officials — acquired by the Times via a Freedom of Information Act request — summarizes the results of the tracking research. Mangan Holcomb recently completed a federally funded, $4-million, 90-day contract with AID. A $4.5 million federal grant has been appropriated to continue the outreach campaign through the end of March, but the funds are currently in limbo after the Legislative Council declined to review the contract last week. 

As part of the original grant, Mangan Holcomb and AID contracted with an independent public relations research group to track the effectiveness of the campaign. They conducted a benchmark awareness survey among uninsured Arkansans in late June, just before the campaign began, then followed up with another survey of another group of uninsured — demographically the same mix as the first — in late September, as the 90-day period was ending. (Unfortunately, the timing meant that AID officials did not yet have any research results measuring the campaign's effectiveness when they were being grilled by the Legislative Council last week.)

The full report is still being analyzed and will likely be released in the next week or so, but the e-mail, copied in full after the jump, suggests that the outreach campaign has been extremely effective thus far.

Overall awareness that new insurance options would be available for enrollment on October 1 increased by 30 percent (jumping from 24 percent to 54 percent). The largest awareness growth was among African Americans, increasing 34 percent (up to 47 percent from just 13). There were also significant increases in awareness that people might qualify for financial assistance and that people can no longer be turned down because of a pre-existing condition. The perspective "that health insurance is very important or a necessity" increased. Awareness of the Arkansas Health Connector web site increased jumped up 20 points. 

Good news! The depressing part, though, is that much outreach work remains, and there is now no budget to do so. Here is how the Mangan Holcomb e-mail concludes:

While awareness for healthcare options available October 1, 2013, is increasing, there is still much work to be done to bring Arkansas Health Connector to the forefront. Awareness for the website has increased indicating that some of the awareness initiatives are working. Explore additional methods of spreading the word regarding the website. Data suggests that once people are aware of the website, they do visit it for additional information.

Full e-mail after the jump. 

I have been through the official research company analysis of the tracking study and here are the most significant takeaways. These are the things that showed double-digit movement from the benchmark. Remember that the only people surveyed were uninsured Arkansans.

• Overall awareness that new insurance options would be available for enrollment on October 1 increased +30% (24% to 54% among all audiences). Awareness among 18-29 year olds increased +26% (21% to 47%). The largest awareness growth was among African-Americans and increased +34% (13% to 47%).

• All audiences increased their perspective that health insurance is very important or a necessity. African-Americans increased in their opinion of this by +13% (74% to 87%).

• Awareness among the overall audience that they might qualify for financial assistance increased +20% (16% to 36%). It increased +14% with 18-29 year olds (22% to 36%). And it increased +18% with African-Americans (10% to 28%).

• Awareness among the overall audience that they can not be turned down because of a pre-existing condition increased +21% (30% to 51%).

• Awareness of the Arkansas Health Connector increased +20% with the overall audience (7% to 27%) and increased +27% (from 10% to 37%) with African-Americans.

• The willingness to go online and fill out an application increased +11% among African-Americans (73% to 84%).

The research firm's research implications assessment:
While awareness for healthcare options available October 1, 2013, is increasing, there is still much work to be done to bring Arkansas Health Connector to the forefront. Awareness for the website has increased indicating that some of the awareness initiatives are working. Explore additional methods of spreading the word regarding the website. Data suggests that once people are aware of the website, they do visit it for additional information.

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