Expanding Health Care Coverage

Grantee Name

Spitfire Strategies

Funding Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Publication Date

April 2011

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

May 2008–February 2009


While the State’s insurance coverage policies for children are relatively expansive, many who are eligible remain without coverage.

The New York State Department of Health’s Office of Health Insurance Programs (OHIP) set the goal to inform families about the availability of coverage and to enroll eligible uninsured children and teenagers. Under this grant, Spitfire Strategies (Spitfire) designed and supported focused enrollment drives to promote the expansion of children’s health insurance coverage in New York. Spitfire developed a strategic communications plan with the messages, approaches, and tactics to create a sufficient buzz around enrollment drives in target communities.

This project was part of a larger NYHealth authorization that funded a series of quick-strike analyses to help the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH’s) Office of Health Insurance programs find ways to streamline and expand its public health insurance programs.

Read an NYHealth special report that contains a summary of findings from this authorization.

NYHealth has learned from similar work that media campaigns and enrollment drives work well to increase enrollments and renewals in public health insurance programs, but their success is limited to the time period of the campaign itself. This issue emerged under an NYHealth-sponsored campaign run by Public Health Solutions to increase awareness among Chinese non-English speaking Medicaid beneficiaries about re-enrollment.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Wrote a memo outlining successful partnership models between corporate sponsors and community-based organizations in other states, best practices and challenges, and types of media coverage and messaging used in other states’ enrollment drives.
  • Wrote a comprehensive strategic communications plan that included key audiences to target, recommended messages, appropriate spokespeople, and tactics and timelines to successfully implement the drives.
  • Engaged partners in regional media markets, such as the Children’s Defense Fund-New York, the Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network of South Central New York, and the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island to implement and hold enrollment drives.
  • Created an alternative media strategy as a back-up for the proposed strategy.
  • Wrote talking points for OHIP’s spokespeople, local officials, and family spokespeople; wrote media advisories and press releases, media fact sheets about the drives, and compiled a media list of key reporters in the target markets.
  • Developed a communications strategy and toolkit for OHIP to address the growing group of New Yorkers who are out of work and likely without health insurance.
  • Reached more than 5,000 New Yorkers through enrollment drives, which resulted in 261 follow-up activities (including referrals to a facilitated enroller, appointments made for application assistance, and applications started by families).
  • Acquired 25 media hits about the drives as a result of media outreach efforts.
  • Attended the drives when possible, and coordinated logistics with partnering organizations to ensure a smooth event.
  • Assisted local partners with on-site promotion to encourage parents to make an appointment with facilitated enrollers.