According to DMagazine, Dallas was a testing ground this summer for advocacy groups learning how to properly communicate with those who are eligible for the Affordable Care Act-mandated health insurance exchanges.
They reported that abortion giant Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Texas Organizing Project spent six weeks in May and June knocking on more than 40,000 doors of mostly Latino households. TOP trained Planned Parenthood organizers, and the two organizations worked separately.
Tiffany Hogue, TOP’s healthcare campaign director, said TOP found that talking in a neutral and informative tone was effective. Organizers also used charts with income ranges and family sizes that consumers could point to to make them feel more comfortable about sharing that information.
TOP chose Dallas because of its high rate of uninsured residents, and its ability to recruit canvassers locally.
Danielle Wells, assistant director of media relations and communications for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said her group knocked on more than 21,000 doors and talked to more than 6,500 people in Dallas. The organization also conducted the same pilot canvassing effort in Detroit.
TOP works with Planned Parenthood
According to FamiliesUSA:
Starting in October, consumers will need significant help understanding how to get health coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces. To prepare for this undertaking, advocates at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America worked with partners on the ground to launch a six-week pilot canvassing project in Dallas and Detroit. They decided to run this program prior to open enrollment in order to get a head start on identifying and educating eligible, uninsured people who will need help enrolling in coverage. This project allowed the canvassing groups to determine how to effectively talk to the uninsured about health coverage and how groups can best train volunteers and staff to talk to the uninsured about these issues.
After knocking on more than 100,000 doors, canvassers learned several lessons about how to approach the uninsured. Most found success when they talked to people using a neutral, informative, yet confident tone—especially when talking to families about immigration status. Moreover, canvassers learned that having a chart with income ranges and family sizes that consumers could point to made people more comfortable talking about their income. And while the consumers they spoke to did not favor the individual responsibility provision, it proved to be the strongest motivator to get people to take action and seek coverage in the marketplace.
This canvassing project not only helped Planned Parenthood and local partners improve their canvassing script; it also helped them identify ways to build on their volunteer and staff training program. For instance, they learned that they needed to provide canvassers with more information on the basics of having health insurance so they could more effectively correct misinformation in the field—for example, many consumers thought having access to an urgent care clinic meant that they had insurance.
Moving forward, through on-the-ground organizing and focus groups, Planned Parenthood and their community partners plan to do additional messaging research that will help inform and strengthen their already incredible outreach and training work.