A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that despite the Affordable Care Act’s looming individual mandate, 15% of Americans remain uninsured. At the same time, a CBS/New York Times poll of those without insurance found 53% of them disapprove of the ACA.
Despite these steep figures, however, a few savvy producers have managed to overcome that aversion and turn ACA-opposed Americans into fully insured clients, simply through educational outreach.
In Ohio, where 14% of the state’s residents are uninsured, independent agent Joey Giangola has gained a large amount of new clients by becoming an authority on the Affordable Care Act and the options available for Ohio citizens.
Giangola started writing blog posts and recording informational videos on healthcare reform with the ACA was passed in 2010. He said he “really took it to a different level” in August 2012, and by getting a jump on the gun, he has seen impressive dividends.
“I was writing about stuff before it was a big deal,” Giangola said. “I saw an opportunity to be somebody who embraced [the ACA] and provided the information that most agents didn’t want to get involved with. I knew there would be people with a ton of questions and a ton of need. It took a little more persistence the first year or two, but those are where the opportunities came from.”
The opportunities definitely came, as Giangola now says he can’t put down the phone. Viewers of his blog and videos have almost always become clients, many of whom were opposed or indifferent to the ACA.
“Ultimately, the people [my outreach] affects the most are those that don’t have that person to call to provide that information,” he said.
Joshua Weinsten took the same approach in Alaska—the seventh-most uninsured state in the nation. More than 21% of Alaskans don’t have healthcare and most oppose the ACA, but Weinstein said he was actually able to turn that into a benefit for Northrim Benefits Group.
“Because the government chose not to participate, we didn’t get a lot of federal money to promote the law,” Weinstein said. “That means there’s a vacuum of information on what the Affordable Care Act is meant to do and how it works. Who better to educate Alaskans and help them select a plan than professionals who understand health insurance?”
While waylaid by some of the technical difficulties plaguing HealthCare.gov, Northrim has been successful in gaining new clients. COO Tyann Boling is attempting a late push for 15,000 new clients in the last week before the Dec. 23 deadline.
Dr. Don McCanne, a senior health policy fellow at Physicians for a National Health Program, told Health Day he expects the numbers of uninsured Americans to remain fairly steady through the rest of the year, but in 2014 and 2015, they may be a good client base for producers who have taken approaches like Giangola’s and Weinstein’s.