East Oaklanders #GetEnrolled at Home
In March 2014, as the initial Obamacare enrollment deadline approached, we worked with Causa Justa::Just Cause and Alameda County Public Health Nursing to launch a door-to-door enrollment campaign in East Oakland.
The unique partnership was a project of our Health Access Work Group, a collaborative comprised of 20 health and community organizations. Our goal was to find and assist individuals and families with the process of registering for a health plan. The assumption was that many East Oaklanders would experience barriers to enrollment. A range of concerns led to the creation of the project: residents wouldn’t know how to enroll or wouldn’t have access to the online forms, there would be language or legal status issues, etc.
What we found in the process of knocking on 3700 doors between 50th and 98th Aves., International Blvd. and Bancroft was that most residents had coverage through their employer, MediCal or had already found a plan on Covered California. In all, over the course of three weeks, we referred 100 East Oakland residents for in-home enrollment with a Community Health Outreach Worker.
This result represented a huge learning for us. While we recognize that there will still be people who require assistance in obtaining coverage, we now understand the importance of focusing our energy and resources on an emerging area of greater need: Health Access.
As individuals new to care begin to seek appointments with their assigned doctors, it is becoming clear that there is a shortage of providers in East Oakland. As a result, the emergency room is still being seen as reliable option for immediate care for issues such as prescription refills and minor illnesses.
The ACA is a powerful tool and there is still an immense amount of work to do. It will take a multi-pronged approach from patients, providers and health advocates to shift the way healthcare is delivered to our most vulnerable populations. We’re only just beginning the change process … more to come.