On the last weekend of open enrollment for D.C. residents, the folks at DC Health Link were trying to get as many people as possible enrolled in an affordable healthcare plan.
“You need to engage with the folks that you're trying to reach. If you don’t engage, you’re not going to get anywhere,” Antonio Guernica, the director of business development for the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority, said.
On Sunday, Guernica was in Adams Morgan at the Our Lady Queen of the Americas Catholic Church, one of the weekend locations for that engagement.
“We sent out emails. We call people up on the phone. We follow up. We go visit them – whatever it takes,” he said through laughter. “What does it do for you? OK, one, it keeps your family healthy… Number two, it protects you from financial ruin. High medical bills is one of the main reasons people go bankrupt.”
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Masses at the church are celebrated in English and Spanish, so it’s an ideal location to reach out to the immigrant community.
The outreach effort continued at the landmark Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street NW. While tour groups came from all over for the food, the atmosphere and the history, the Thompsons came for coverage.
“The process was very smooth. We learned a lot [about] how D.C. healthcare takes place and what needs to be done,” Rich Thompson said.
“I think [the effort is] incredibly important, because a lot of people just will not take the time or do not even know where to go,” Angela Thompson said.
And so, at restaurants and at church, DC Health Link took advantage of the weekend to offer food for thought.
“We realize that health insurance is not a sexy topic, but it's very, very important,” Guernica said.
Enrollment ends on Jan. 31, so there’s still time to sign up.
“The best place to go is DChealthlink.com. There you’ll have all the information as to what we’re doing,” Guernica said.