Leaders from all faith traditions are spreading the word about ACA open enrollment, especially the weekend of December 5-6.
For people of faith, their church, mosque, synagogue or other place of worship is central to their community — a vital resource for guidance and support.
That’s one reason organizations like Enroll America work closely with faith leaders to help spread the word about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, especially during open enrollment.
“Faith engagement is a crucial part of our open enrollment strategy,” says David Street, national director for Faith and African American Engagement at Enroll America, and associate pastor at Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Washington, DC. “People come to faith leaders for inspiration and advice — as validators on important issues. It just makes practical sense to build strong relationships with the faith community.”
As part of its mission to help people access affordable healthcare, Enroll America provides toolkits to faith leaders, to help them educate their congregations about the ACA and the importance of getting covered. Enroll America has always worked closely with churches, and is now forging stronger relationships with mosques, especially in areas with large Muslim populations such as Philadelphia and Detroit.
December 5-6 is a nationwide faith weekend of action, with others scheduled in January. There will be enrollment events hosted in conjunction with faith groups and healthcare access partners across the country over the weekend — but that’s only part of the strategy.
According to Street, churches, mosques and other places of worship have always been central to the social justice and civil rights movements. Access to healthcare is an important aspect of providing communities with the resources they need, especially in urban areas, he explains.
In this climate where people are talking about things such as education equity and police conduct, our places of worship are entrenched in those conversations. We want them to speak out not only a message of faith but a message of resources.
We know in many urban areas, where there are high rates of poverty and crime, when you bring in healthcare coverage you’re bringing in another resource, especially when you have people struggling with depression and other mental health issues. We look at it as an opportunity to be a referral and a partner as this important work is going on.
We believe in the power of prayer, but we also believe in the other resources we can offer. We want faith leaders to help point communities in the direction of local partners and resources that can alleviate some obstacles.
Street adds that it’s not just about helping faith leaders share information about coverage and resources. It’s about helping faith communities get engaged.
“We want faith communities to own this,” he says. “We want churches and households to be the mouthpiece to people they interact with — to make a big push to take advantage of this landmark legislation that’s already covered 17 million people and will cover millions more. By helping people in need, we’re engaging the spirit of pride and activism.”
To find an event near you during the faith weekend of action, visit Get Covered America and search events by zip code.
There are plenty of other enrollment resources available from Get Covered America, a project of Enroll America. The Get Covered Connector provides a list of local in-person assisters who are trained to help consumers choose the right plan, at no cost. There’s also a great new tool called the Get Covered Plan Explorer that lets you compare plans based on premiums, deductibles, local doctors and facilities, and more.
Open enrollment for 2016 coverage continues until January 31, 2016, but if you want coverage that starts January 1 you must enroll or renew your plan by December 15. Financial assistance is available for 8 out of every 10 consumers, to make insurance more affordable — and if you don’t have insurance, you could be hit with a $695 fine. For many people, buying insurance will be less expensive.
To get started, visit Healthcare.gov or check out the tools from Get Covered America.
Did you get covered recently? Tell us your story for a future post!
[Image credit: brittbrittphotos via DeviantArt.]