Mayor’s Health Line Reaches Out to Help Enroll Families Into Healthcare Coverage

Posted on January 25, 2012



To increase their capacity to reach uninsured individuals, many states utilize out-stationed eligibility workers to help enroll individuals into Medicaid. “Out-stationed” at community-based organizations (e.g. health centers, clinics, hospitals, schools, community centers), these workers enable individuals to apply for public assistance benefits at locations other than the typical Medicaid or social services offices; optimally in locations that are more geographically accessible to potential consumers than state or county offices might be.

Through grant support from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, the Mayor’s Health Line hired, trained, and placed eligibility workers in communities throughout the City of Boston (target populations include Hispanics, African Americans, and pregnant women).  Often tasked with a breadth of responsibilities, workers primarily assist individuals and families determine eligibility and enroll in Medicaid coverage options.  These workers often split their time between 2-3 offices at various community hubs while also often spending time throughout their designated community to spread education and awareness at local events, such as health fairs, and to build relationships with key leaders at local grammar and high schools. Additionally, operating for over 25 years, the Mayor’s Health Line had workers available via telephone for hard to reach, often elderly, individuals. Individuals simply call 617-534-5050 to begin the enrollment process or to have their questions answered.

The Mayor’s Health Line’s and other Massachusetts out-stationed eligibility workers have largely been successful in the enrollment of eligible populations, processing thousands of applications to enroll nearly hundreds of families.  One key success of the program has been the ability of workers to advance outreach efforts while also establishing connections with community stakeholders. Clinics and health centers have been especially receptive to this program, as workers have served to not only connect patients with coverage, but also to develop relationships, build education, and improve health care access among patients. 

The Mayor’s Health Line continues to evolve the work of its community outreach program, leveraging lessons from a recent audience analysis to enhance outreach practices, as well as researching better ways to track enrollment and disenrollment information through the eligibility process. The State of Massachusetts and BCBS Foundation have also learned many valuable lessons from the project about the unique needs and challenges of various populations in navigating current state eligibility processes. For example, the hiring of bilingual out-stationed workers greatly benefited one region of the state with a large concentration of Spanish speaking individuals.   Such lessons will be used to enhance the capacity of the state’s self-service online and telephone tools—which will provide consumers with self-service options to inquire about potential eligibility for social service programs—to work for diverse populations within the state.

If you or your program would be interested in partnering with the Mayor’s Health Line to connect families with needed health care services, please call 617-534-5050. All services are free and confidential and callers needs are addressed in whatever language they speak.