The state of Michigan has more than 62,000 Medicare beneficiaries who may be eligible for the Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS/Extra Help), but are not enrolled in the program. For many, the reason is simple lack of awareness of the benefit’s existence.
But thanks to a timely, well-placed article in a widely read newspaper, more Michigan Medicare beneficiaries are connected to Extra Help.
What did they do?
MMAP, Inc., Michigan’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program, sought to “sell the story” of how Extra Help can help low-income seniors and adults with disabilities afford their medications.
MMAP worked with community partners to gather all the information a reporter would need to cover this topic, including:
- Statistical information (gathered with help from NCOA) about the number of seniors missing out on LIS in Michigan, the number of those living at or near poverty, and the value of the benefit.
- Local agency contacts who could explain the application process in more detail.
- The contact details of a caregiver who helped her mother receive Extra Help, and was willing to speak about it publicly.
MMAP reached out to a reporter with the Detroit Free Press who specializes in health information. The resulting article was published on March 28, 2014 on the front page of the Free Press.
Accompanying the article was information about several local meetings that MMAP representatives were hosting in local libraries and senior centers to further educate the public about Medicare and Extra Help.
What were the results?
Following publication of the Free Press story, local MMAP offices saw a spike in the number of consumers seeking advice about Extra Help and their Part D coverage. For example, one Area Agency on Aging saw a 100% increase in call volume in the days immediately following the article release, jumping from 45 to 90 callers, and 12 walk-ins specifically referring to the story. Another AAA received 40 calls from individuals who’d read the article, and completed 25 applications for Extra Help based on these calls.
The Michigan experience illustrates how working together with reporters to share a compelling story about how benefits change lives can lead to a successful enrollment campaign.
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