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“The intensity is definitely ramping up,” he said, comparing the efforts to reach the uninsured to candidates’ efforts to reach voters. “They are going to hear from us multiple times between now and the end of March until they tell us they have insurance. It’s just like a campaign.”
Nicholas Duran, Enroll America’s Florida director - (NYT)

I think March is going to surprise even the supporters of ACA. Yesterday Brainwrap asked the question whether 7 million signups are still possible by March 31st. By all means he is the statistical expert on the current numbers as evidenced by the success of his website ACAsignups.net. But there was something missing from the hopes and predictions about March ending strong and bringing the private coverage signups close to the 7 million mark.

I bring two ideas, the first being FAR more important than the second. The sometimes invisible "campaign" to enroll these millions, and the soon to be seen tax preparation peak season.

Campaign Crunchtime
Google "Enroll America news" and you can start to see that they are getting busy...in a big way. NYT provides just one glimpse into their work. Enroll America has hundreds of staffers on the ground. Their partner organizations are paying hundreds, if not thousands of canvassers to hit highly targeted doors. And the volunteers are ready to Get-out-the-Enrollment.

When 5 or 6 weeks out, just ONE of their partner organizations is knocking on 18,000 doors a day.....wow. If you follow how field campaigns work, you know they ramp up exponentially towards election day.  

Just imagine what March will hold for these well organized and motivated campaigns:
Weather gets a bit warmer in some of the target states like Ohio.
Volunteers have internalized all their training.  
Paid canvassers have honed their skills.
And there is nothing like a deadline to make people finally deal with something they had been dreading.

Tax Preparation Peak Season
44% of Americans filed their taxes in the 6 weeks preceding March 31st in 2009 (source). And 21% percent are using online tax software, that this year is alerting people to the online exchanges and options for finding out their eligibility for tax credits to pay for private coverage. I don't have any data on what the demographic of online tax software users are, but judging that they aren't using CPA's (35%) or in-person services (20%), I figure it's nearly the perfect target for the private market exchanges: low income and tech savvy enough to trust themselves to file electronically. The 27% of filers who file in April will miss out on this reminder though.    

Poll

When did you/will you do your taxes this year?

8%10 votes
15%18 votes
18%21 votes
16%19 votes
0%1 votes
9%11 votes
17%20 votes
13%16 votes

| 116 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    "Baby, if I told you I was a race with 1% of precincts reporting, would you call me?"

    by Daxton16 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 02:55:03 PM PST

  •  Suckers and extensions (0+ / 0-)

    Some of us have legitimate reasons to always file for the extension.  It's not because we think deadlines are for suckers.

    Good diary - bad poll question...  :-)

  •  Pie (0+ / 0-)

    I chose pie, because it's yummy.

    Actually, I chose it because we're likely moving in mid-March, and I want to have the new address on the return, but still file as early as possible.  But it should be roughly then.  Also, it won't be just before 4AM, but just before 2 AM (3.14159)

  •  There is also word of mouth; every person who (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, Brainwrap, rsmpdx

    enrolls has friends and family members they can talk to.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:51:43 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the shout-out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rsmpdx

    And you're correct that there are several factors which may cause an unexpectedly positive outcome as we enter the final month. That is to say, everyone is expecting a March surge of some sort, but it could be higher than even supporters expect.

    There's several factors supporting this, and there's also several factors supporting a lower final enrollment tally:

    POSITIVE FACTORS:

    --Technical glitches being worked out (even Oregon's exchange is finally at least partially online now, other state exchanges are mostly improving)

    --Huge backlog of applications that are finally being processed (ties in w/above; as tech issues are worked out, a lot of partially-processed apps are finally being pushed through the system)

    --Huge ground game push by Enroll America activists, as noted in the diary

    --Ticking clock: Deadline approaching, as noted in the diary

    --Tax Refunds: Again, noted in the diary, and this could help in two ways. First, a big chunk of people will have some extra money from their refund to encourage them to put towards coverage; secondly, the exchange/eligibility reminder on electronic returns, which I didn't know about but which is a nice bonus factor

    NEGATIVE FACTORS:

    --Low-hanging fruit is gone: The two groups most likely to enroll early were those who have been trying to get insurance but have been denied based on pre-existing conditions, and the "OMG 5M CANCELLED!!" crowd (ie, those who already had coverage which was cancelled for not being ACA-compliant, which includes myself).

    The vast bulk of both of these groups have already signed up by now, either via the exchanges or directly. My proof of this is in New York, which has jumped from 50% previously uninsured to 66% to 69% in just the past few weeks.

    In other words, we're now down to those who have never actually had insurance...which also means those with the least amount of experience in how insurance works, as well as those who may still be completely in the dark about the exchanges, why they should enroll, the penalty for not doing so and so forth.

    --HC.gov was offline for 3 days last weekend, which presumably hurt enrollments in 36 states

    --Covered California's exchange has been offline since Wednesday due to technical problems. It was supposed to be back online yesterday but is still displaying a "We'll be back soon" message as of Sunday evening. This is gonna hurt especially given that CA has been kicking ass up until now.

  •  Thanks, good to know about the (0+ / 0-)

    canvassing efforts.

    I hope it pays off big, as you suggest. But the NYT article sounds like they are having considerable difficulty identifying and enrolling solid prospects.

    Hopefully they will tune their models and get the canvassers more trained and experience for better success as the deadline looms.

    I can't help it. I love the state of Texas. It's a harmless perversion. - Molly Ivins

    by rsmpdx on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:29:57 PM PST

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