The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) partnered with Voxiva this month to launch a text message-based campaign in the hopes of encouraging New Mexicans to enroll in the exchange before the March 31, 2014 ObamaCare deadline.
To use the service, anyone local interested in enrolling in the exchange can text BeWellNM to 311411. They will then receive an automated text response prompting them to provide information on their household size and income before taxes. With that information, NMHIX can tell users whether they need to enroll in Medicaid or enroll in another plan via the health exchange along with the resources they need to enroll. If the user needs extra help, they can respond that they want to be contacted by a representative who can then walk them through the enrollment process.
"We had a little bit of a slow launch, because we wanted to test it internally," New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Chief Communications Officer Debra Hammer told MobiHealthNews. "We fully launched it this week with the press release. We're announcing it at different sports venues where people are really using their mobile phone, and yesterday we had 280 texts, of which 28 asked for actual contact from our customer service reps. So that's about a 10 percent return rate already on people who want to be contacted, so we feel pretty good about the initial launch."
Hammer said they first decided to launch the campaign when they realized they weren't reaching as many people as they wanted in the community.
"We had about 15,000 enrolled at the end of February and we had a slow start with the Healthcare.gov site," Hammer said. "We just wanted to make sure that we accelerated our campaign and texting. We had worked with a consultant who has worked with Voxiva before and we got to talk with them to look at different ways we can use the application for enrollment, but then also how we could use it moving forward."
Hammer added that even after the deadline, the texting program will aim to keep the population engaged, work on retention, offer free preventative care to qualifying health plans, and help people understand monthly premium payments.
From observing past experiences, Hammer expects the program to have a slow start but hopes it will eventually see 10,000 text inquiries, and assuming the 10 percent figure holds up, about 1,000 people asking to contact them about insurance.
In early February, a couple of New Mexico-based doctors launched an Affordable Care Act app to spread information to citizens about enrollment. That app has information about signing up, such as which records and documents to have handy and what that means for someone who already has a specific kind of insurance. It also offers a calculator to help users see what insurance they are qualified for based on age, household income, any disabilities they or their family members might have, and whether they are citizens.