Thousands of words have been written about the ability of individuals to sign up for health insurance exchanges at the federal and state levels. As CivSource reported, many states have launched media campaigns in an effort to raise awareness. Vermont is enlisting the help of its local hospitals, tasking them to become outreach centers in their own right.
An agreement between Governor Shumlin and the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, will mean that patients may get information about the health insurance exchange while in the hospital. Hospitals will also train counselors and patient navigators to help people understand the healthcare system. Navigators are one of the new roles created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they offer a high touch relationship that sets up almost a healthcare buddy system between those that know their way around the needlessly complex and often esoteric patient care system and those that don’t.
Other outreach efforts will include the basics like flyers, and training hospital billing to offer basic information about the exchanges. Information sessions may also be in the works. Earlier this month, we noted that patients prefer provider-led healthcare plans by almost a two-to-one margin, so using hospitals for outreach may be a good way of building on existing patient trust that comes with dealing with doctors and nurses instead of corporations.
18 hospitals in Vermont have agreed to participate. “This partnership is one of many ways hospitals are engaged in initiatives to continually improve care and help bend the cost curve,” said Judy Tartaglia, Chair of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS) and CEO of the Central Vermont Medical Center.