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Slow enrollment for Obamacare in rural counties

People in rural areas trying to enroll for health insurance as part of the new Affordable Care Act can face special challenges. Registration must happen online, and many people in Michigan’s rural counties do not have a home computer or access to the Internet. 

Maryum Rasool is the lead outreach and enrollment specialist with Hamilton Community Health Network, based in Flint. The organization helps people navigate Obamacare in Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Tuscola, Sanilac, and Huron Counties.  Rasool's clients can include anyone from a farmer to a lifelong city-dweller.

She says there’s help for residents in rural areas who lack computers and transportation. People known as certified application counselors (or CACs), travel with laptops throughout the counties in Michigan’s Thumb area. They can help residents enroll online via healthcare.gov.

Rural counties in Michigan have low rates of people registering for health insurance through Obamacare. But health providers are preparing for a boom later this spring, when hundreds of thousands more people will be able to get health insurance through the Medicaid expansion called Healthy Michigan.

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a substitute host and producer at KNKX.
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