Now that Obamacare’s new insurance marketplaces are open to the public, some uninsured Americans are eager to sign up. However, many others likely remain confused about their options under health reform, particularly as Obamacare continues to get caught in the political crossfire. In order to bridge the education gap about the health law, advocates are ramping up their enrollment efforts in creative ways. For instance, you can now text ENROLL to Planned Parenthood to receive information about health reform.
But nonprofit and government groups can’t do it all on their own. Here are seven large companies that are currently joining in on the effort and helping to spread the word about the new insurance options available under Obamacare:
1. Trader Joe’s
Last month, Trader Joe’s announced that it was dropping coverage for its part-time employees working less than 30 hours a week — a move that Obamacare critics were quick to interpret as a sign that the health reform law puts too much of a burden on big companies. But the grocery chain actually decided to eliminate part-time benefits because the options under Obamacare are more generous than the plans the company had been offering. And now, it’s encouraging part-time employees to sign up for a plan on Obamacare’s newly-open insurance marketplaces. An internal memo provided to the Huffington Post last week encourages workers to figure out what a plan under Obamacare would cost for them, and suggests that Trader Joe’s may help offset the cost even further by covering part of that premium.
TurboTax, one of the most popular tax preparation software packages in the country, is helping to spread the news about what Obamacare’s new insurance marketplaces may mean for their customers’ finances. The front page of its website currently displays a section about “how the new health reform law affects you,” and directs people to get more information about the federal subsidies available to help them buy insurance. Last week, TurboTax sent an email to its customers entitled “Health Care Reform & Your Taxes” that includes a link to TurboTax’s “Health Care Eligibility Calculator,” which helps people figure out what their subsidy will be if they want to enroll in one of Obamacare’s new plans.
It makes sense that pharmacies would be invested in promoting big changes in the health insurance industry. “Families throughout our country look to their pharmacy as a place they can go to for honest, straightforward advice they can trust,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted in a blog post last month. That’s exactly why CVS officials are promoting Obamacare in 7,400 of their U.S. stores to teach uninsured Americans more about their options for getting coverage. The pharmacy chain will also invite “navigators,” the employees trained to help Americans enroll in Obamacare plans, into their stores to connect with people who need insurance. And CVS is currently prominently displaying brochures entitled “Affordable Care Act Answers” that answer common questions about health reform.
In July, Walgreens announced that it would partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the largest health insurance companies in the country, to promote Obamacare. The two companies launched a new website to answer customers’ questions about the health reform law. Walgreens will also have informational materials about health reform available in each of its 8,000 stores.
5. Rite Aid
CREDIT: Rite Aid
Last month, Rite Aid became the third large pharmacy chain to agree to publicize the changes under the health reform law. The company is hosting licensed insurance agents, who are available to help people sign up for Obamacare at no additional cost to them, at 2,000 of its stores across the country. It’s not necessary to make an appointment to meet with the agents, who have received “specific training” to offer guidance on Obamacare. They’ll be able to answer questions about Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces as well as Medicaid eligibility in the states that have opted to expand the program.
WebMD, the largest online health website in the country, released a consumer guide to Obamacare in August. “WebMD has more than a decade of expertise in providing health insurance information. The Health Care Reform Center builds on this expertise at a time when there is an immense need for trusted, objective information about complex legislation,” the company’s interim CEO David Schlanger explained at the time. Now, on the front page of its site, WebMD is prominently displaying a widget that gives Americans more information about the health reform options in their state. “Learn about plans, benefits, and costs in your state’s Marketplace,” the site notes.
7. Giant Food
CREDIT: Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News
Giant has partnered with Maryland’s state-run insurance marketplace, Maryland Health Connection, to help spread the word about Obamacare. The grocery chain is displaying information about the plans on the state’s new marketplace in 100 of its stores. The company will also work with Maryland Health Connection to plan outreach events, like enrollment fairs to help Giant customers sign up for Obamacare plans with the help of a navigator. Maryland has been particularly creative about promoting Obamacare, and is also partnering with the Baltimore Ravens to publicize health reform.