EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

May 18, 2013

NH gets input on educating public about health law

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — From Old Home Days to Home Depot, New Hampshire residents should find information about the federal health overhaul law everywhere they turn, and soon, advocates told state Insurance Department officials Friday.

Commissioner Roger Sevigny and his staff hosted a forum Friday for consumers, business owners and health care providers to get advice on how the state should help residents learn about and navigate the new insurance markets required under the law. Led in large part by people who work for health care-related organizations, the discussion focused on key populations to target, how best to reach them and the role of those doing the outreach.

Shawn LaFrance, executive director Foundation for Healthy Communities, said the state needs to think outside the box in terms of outreach. When his group wanted to educate men about the importance of cholesterol screening, it set up outside of Home Depot and auto service stations on Saturday mornings.

“We got a lot of up-tick at those sites, because those aren’t people who typically go to health fairs or senior centers or places like that,” he said.

Nanette Avril of Franconia said she belongs to a group that volunteered for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and have stayed active in their communities since the election. They are hoping to help spread the word about the health reform law, she said.

“We saw during the last several years ... that up in the North Country, it’s very difficult to reach people if you just wait for them to come to you,” she said. “We have things over the summer like our Old Home Days, or our fairs, that are natural places (to target). People who maybe never go into town, they come to these things.”

Other participants suggested incorporating outreach efforts into sporting events, or including social media, schools, soup kitchens and churches. People who might warrant special attention include racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities and young adults who in the past haven’t seen the need to get insurance, the group said, and the state should rely on its existing network of social service and health care agencies to do the work.

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