Bridging the Opportunity Divide

Meet The Woman Putting a Personal Touch on Health Insurance Enrollment

November 10, 2014
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Meet The Woman Putting a Personal Touch on Health Insurance Enrollment
Daphne Pie's group of 24 community leaders provides information and guidance on how to choose insurance for King County's diverse population. J. Stephen Conn/Flikr
She makes it easier for people to get the correct coverage.

With all the intricate details of the health care system, it’s easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed, making it next to impossible to choose the best insurance option. Which is why King County, Wash. is taking a different approach — they’re letting the people that know the community take the lead.

So instead of residents hearing about health care options in a general format, a representative of the community presents information catered to the individual area’s needs.

The woman behind the idea? Daphne Pie, King County’s manager of access and outreach at the Public Health Department for Seattle and King County. Her group of workers consists of 24 community leaders, including representatives from Cierra Sisters, Arms Perinatal Doula Program, Gay City health project and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service.

All of this began about four years when the County Council put forth their ‘equity and social justice’ strategic plan, according to National Journal. The measure has each county department focus on reaching the communities where there is the greatest inequity in their respective area of expertise.

For Pie, that meant finding a way to reach diverse groups about their health insurance choices. Her solution? For every community that had above average rates of uninsured citizens, a leader that spreads the message: “you can have health care insurance for free or at a very low cost.”

Communities in King County are quite diverse, featuring African-Americans, Native American tribes, Latinas and homosexuals, among others. Therefore, it’s useful to have a member of that community who can understand and address each group’s specific needs — whether it be HIV medication or natural childbirth.

The County’s commitment to this project isn’t just on paper, either. In 2013, out of the $1.6 million of federal grants King County received, $1.3 million of it went to community partners.

“You have to reach the uninsured where they live,” Pie tells National Journal. “We can’t expect these people to always come to us.”

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