The Funders Who Can Claim Some Credit for the Massive Uptick in ACA Enrollment

Back in the spring of 2013, when plans for the first enrollment period for ACA were underway, funders were skittish about the public knowing of their support for enrollment efforts, fearing negative backlash from conservative critics. Now, with the White House's recent announcement that 11.4 million Americans have successfully signed up for Obamacare, funders are more openly acknowledging their support for enrollment efforts.

Enroll America is the nation’s biggest enrollment coalition, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit with one goal: to increase the number of Americans who enroll in and keep health coverage.

So who are the big names supporting the ongoing enrollment efforts? In November, Enroll America announced $20 million in funding from a newly formed coalition planning smarter, more extensive enrollment for the second period that began November 15. Many of the big foundations in health care philanthropy are headlining this effort, and several large hospital networks and insurers are also joining the fray.

Enroll America raised $27 million in 2013 to support its efforts, the first year that enrollment began. In 2014, Enroll America raised more than $20 million with a new mix to the funders: 66 percent coming from philanthropies, 17 percent from hospitals, and 17 percent from others in the health care sector and individual donors.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) gave a total of $10 million in 2013 and again in 2014. The second $10 million was for "Get Covered America" and supported the second three-month open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. Get Covered America has been reaching out to consumers with health care enrollment options in eleven statesAZ, FL, GA, IL, MI, NC, NJ, OH, PA, TN and TX. 

Smaller states have gotten support from a number of sources for enrollment. In West Virginia, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation gave $170,000 to help enrollment efforts in 2014. The Houston Endowment gave Enroll America $250,000 in 2014. The Kate Reynolds Charitable Trust gave over $300,000 in 2014 for the "Get Covered North Carolina" enrollment effort. Other private foundations support has come from the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation.

Significant hospital association funders include the American Hospital Association and the Tennessee Hospital Association. Several religiously affiliated health care facilities and associations are also big funders including Catholic Health Association of the United States, CHE Trinity Health, Catholic Health Initiatives, St. Luke's Health Initiative, United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Ascension Health, Presence Health, and CHRISTUS Health.

Big insurers funding the effort include BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Blue Shield of California, Independence Blue Cross, and Kaiser Permanente. 

Several other state-based health endowments and foundations are also contributing including the Colorado Health Foundation, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and the Kansas Health Foundation.

For help in California, Enroll America got $2 million from the California Endowment in 2014, but the California Endowment gave some much bigger money to media and communication organizations to help get the word out for ACA to marginalized communities.

With $15 million dollars to Univision Communications in 2014 for a California Latino Outreach and Enrollment Campaign, and over $9 million to the Legal Aid Society of San Diego for the Health Consumer Alliance, the California Endowment leads the pack in terms of health care enrollment grant making to reach economically disadvantaged communities with ACA access.

The California Endowment also gave over $900,000 to CBS Radio in Sacramento to support "a radio, social media and online consumer education campaign on health coverage opportunities available through the Affordable Care Act and Medi-Cal expansion targeting lower-income Latinos, Asians and African Americans in California." The California Endowment also gave $940,000 in 2014 to Lucas Public Affairs in Sacramento for Health Coverage Outreach to "small and ethnic businesses in California through their employers and professional associations."

Also in 2014, California Endowment gave similar chunks of money to several media and communications organizations to promote enrollment in ACA, including:

  • Jeffrey Scott Agency, Fresno, California: $834,202
  • Pacific News Service, San Francisco, California: $738,808
  • Mercury Public Affairs LLC, Sacramento, California: $694,970
  • We Care Enough to Act, Los Angeles, California: $652,108

The list of grants from the California Endowment to media organizations goes on with the grants getting smaller in relatively smaller California communities, but many of these grants are in the half-million dollar range for communication and public outreach to enroll folks in ACA.