An effort to get rural residents to sign up for health insurance appears to be working. A direct mail campaign, with fliers sent to 53,000 homes in targeted areas of Central, Southern and Western Illinois, produced results on the website approaching the Dec. 15 deadline to get coverage that started Jan. 1. “Statewide, our overall traffic increased during that particular week, which was the week leading up to the deadline, it was a 115 percent increase. In the target markets that we hit with direct mail, the traffic to our website increased by 248 percent,” said Jennifer Koehler, director of Get Covered Illinois.
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The targeted areas last month were Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and Vermilion counties in Central Illinois, Franklin, Jackson, Perry and Williamson counties in Southern Illinois, and Rock Island County in Western Illinois.
Open enrollment runs for another month, and another literature campaign – 36,000 pieces – will land in mailboxes next week in three other targeted rural areas: McLean County, Madison County, and in Knox, Stark, Bureau, Marshall and Woodford counties.
The areas targeted for the mail are selected based on the high level of uninsured residents, and the likelihood that they’ll be eligible for subsidies.
Koehler says getting the message out that health insurance is available, and that having it is required by law, is harder in rural areas than in urban areas, where there are more locations with foot traffic.
Statewide, 121,000 people enrolled or re-enrolled in health insurance plans during the first month of the 2014-15 open enrollment period. That brings to 800,000 the number of Illinois residents who have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, either through private plans on the Healthcare.gov exchange, or through expanded Medicaid.