Reaching Families in Rural Communities

November 24, 2014

Of the 50 U.S. counties with the highest rates of uninsured children, 45 are in rural areas, according to a September 10, 2014 report by the national child advocacy group, First Focus. Conducting outreach and enrollment in rural areas comes with a unique set of challenges. To address these issues, the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign hosted a webinar on rural outreach strategies for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It featured outreach experts and specialists from the National Rural Health Association, Community Catalyst, the Kentucky Office of Rural Health, and the Telluride Foundation. Each speaker shared tips and on-the-ground examples of how they successfully reach and enroll families in rural areas. Check out the webinar.

Outreach Tips

This 2014 brief by the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health Policy outlines best practices for reaching and enrolling uninsured rural populations, including developing partnerships with local utility companies or community banks to include enrollment materials in bill statements and bank deposit slips. Customize free Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign palm cards that fit inside a standard business envelope.

The Rural Assistance Center (RAC) features case studies on its "Rural Health Models and Innovation Hub," which provide insightful outreach ideas gleaned from existing projects. Take a look at the 15 projects that focus on reaching the uninsured. Many of these examples are from last year's Marketplace Open Enrollment period, and can be adapted for your organization's Medicaid and CHIP year-round enrollment efforts. One example, from the Florida Panhandle, discusses how six counties used their "Smiles on Wheels" program to provide dental health services to 6,151 low-income children and also complete more than 2,500 applications to Florida KidCare (Florida's Medicaid and CHIP program).

Partnership Opportunity

The National Rural Health Association has 42 State Rural Health Associations (SRHAs) that provide education, training and communication tools to rural health stakeholders. SRHAs can help your organization identify new partnerships and connect you with local outreach events. Look for a SRHA near your community.

Campaign Resources

Radio ads and on-air announcements can help you promote your enrollment activities to families in rural areas. The Campaign has free English and Spanish radio PSAs and live-read scripts that you can share with rural radio stations. There are also tips for placing the PSAs, pitch letters and other ways you can use the PSAs beyond local radio stations.

Stay Connected With the National Campaign – In 3 Easy Steps

  • Follow the Campaign on Twitter. Don't forget to re-tweet or share our messages with your network or use our #Enroll365 hashtag in your posts.
  • Share our materials widely. We have more than 50 National Campaign resources available, including translated print materials, to use in outreach and enrollment efforts.
  • Contact us to get more involved with the National Campaign at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov or 1-855-313-KIDS (5437).

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