Canvass aims to reach the uninsuredRay Cott-Meissel and Jason Morzenti were knocking on doors on behalf of Insure Duluth, the local coalition formed to raise awareness of new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Between them, Ray Cott-Meissel and Jason Morzenti have been to almost every house, apartment and duplex in the Lincoln Park neighborhood this week.
“We may have missed a few corners,” Cott-Meissel said as he and Morzenti worked their way up the 2700 block of West Third Street on Wednesday afternoon. It was their third of three days working the neighborhood between 3 and 8 p.m.
The men were knocking on doors on behalf of Insure Duluth, the local coalition formed to raise awareness of new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, they were telling residents about an enrollment event scheduled for today at Harrison Community Center on Third Street.
It’s the first of Insure Duluth’s three planned canvasses in hopes of cutting into the city’s 11 percent uninsured rate, said Elizabeth Olson, program officer for Generations Health Care Initiatives, the local foundation that’s spearheading the effort. Dates and locations of the other canvasses haven’t been determined.
The idea, Olson said, is to go into high-density, low-income neighborhoods in advance of an event where navigators will be available to help them sign up through MNsure, the state’s version of the health insurance marketplace.
Lincoln Park, with 32 percent of residents at or below the federal poverty level, seemed like a good place to start, she said.
“We’re hoping that this really works toward getting the folks that are currently uninsured onto insurance.”
As of Wednesday, however, the canvassers hadn’t found many people without any coverage, Cott-Meissel said.
Some already were covered through Minnesota Care or Minnesota Medical Assistance, and others said they were happy with the coverage they had at work, he said.
On Third Street, Cott-Meissel briefly chatted with one woman who explained that she worked for St. Luke’s hospital and had good coverage but would tell other people she knew about the enrollment event.
“We are finding some people are interested in coming down and seeing where the numbers fall for them,” Cott-Meissel said.
One of those people was Lorin Gade, 53, a marine technician who recently moved into a duplex about a block from the community center. Gade said his wife has excellent health insurance, but he’s not happy with the coverage he gets for his $160 monthly premium.
He hadn’t known about the enrollment event until Cott-Meissel came to his door, Gade said, and he would attend.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised” to hear about it, he said.
In the next block, Marcus Taintor, a 31-year-old mechanic, said he probably would attend. Taintor, who has been without health insurance for two years, hasn’t decided what he’ll do for next year.
“I don’t know enough about it yet to know what to do,” he said.
The canvassers were finding people home at about 10-15 percent of residences, Cott-Meissel said, and they left fliers about the event when they didn’t find anyone.
As they crossed Third Street to work the other side and skies began to darken, Cott-Meissel and Morzenti were experiencing milder conditions compared with the blustery winds and below-freezing temperatures of the previous days.
“This is a gorgeous, gorgeous autumn evening here in Duluth,” Cott-Meissel said.
Enrollment event tonight
Insure Duluth is hosting what it calls an information and enrollment fair in the Lincoln Park neighborhood tonight.The event will take place from 5-8 p.m. at the Harrison Community Center, 3002 W. Third St.
People who attend will be able to enroll in health insurance plans or find out about coverage for which they qualify.
The fair includes refreshments, door prizes and giveaways; child care and children’s activities also will be available. People needing child care are asked to RSVP by calling (218) 409-0109 in advance.
Organizers say it will help if people who come know their household income, Social Security numbers and any employer coverage information.
For those who can’t attend today’s sessions, information on health insurance options is available through the United Way help line by calling 211.