Community health centers key in insurance enrollment

Community health centers key in insurance enrollment
Community health centers key in insurance enrollment

HealthDay News -- Grants totaling $150 million are to be shared by 1,100 community health centers to help enroll patients in insurance programs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Having trained, face-to-face assistance in enrollment from trusted resources at local health centers means that more people will get the help they need,” Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, of the Health Resources and Services Administration said in a press release.

In a related initiative, Walgreen Co. and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association announced that brochures will be distributed at Walgreens drug stores across the country to inform customers about the health law and provide information on how to obtain insurance coverage.

Federally-supported clinics primarily serving people without health insurance or those who are "under-insured" will receive grant money, with each clinic receiving a minimum of $59,000. The money will be used to hire an estimated 3,000 outreach workers and to support other efforts to enroll patients in private insurance or Medicaid.

The clinics are expected to enroll about 3.7 million people into Medicare or private health insurance sold through exchanges or Marketplaces. Open enrollment starts Oct. 1, 2013, and will continue until March 31, 2014; coverage will be effective Jan. 1, 2014.

"Investing in health centers means that people in neighborhoods and towns across the country have one more resource to help them understand their insurance options and enroll in affordable coverage," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. 

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