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Communications 101: Make it Make Sense

There are as many explanations of the Affordable Care Act these days as there are types of eggs in a natural foods store. While I am thrilled to see so many people working to spread the word, often the information varies depending on who is producing the content. And sometimes not all information out there is very user-friendly.

There is one simple solution that I think would immediately make most ACA content easier to read: replace the word "Exchange" with the word "Marketplace."

The reason is this.

What comes to mind when you hear the term “Exchange”? I think of stock markets or trading beads in the Trobriand Islands. Unfortunately, neither of these are close to what the new health insurance option will look like. So it's understandable when people are confused after hearing about the new "Exchange" that is starting in October.

Now try the word “Marketplace.” What images does this word bring to mind? Are farmer's markets, grocery stores, or craft fairs high on your list? NOW you're getting closer to what the new health insurance Exchange - ahem, Marketplace - will be like.

So read on to this infographic, but keep in mind that what we're actually talking about is a consumer-friendly, easy-to-use marketplace where you can shop for health insurance. 

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Big day, big opportunity

Whew! What a whirlwind over the past 24 hours. I'm still reeling from the Texas state senate being the most exciting thing to watch ever, and now SCOTUS taking the side of equality. But we're still looking ahead to even more exciting opportunities to make history!

With 96 days left until open enrollment for the new Health Insurance Marketplace, hundreds of thousands of people still don't know what's coming. I had a chat with local comedian Sarah Kennedy last night about what all this means for New Mexico. Check us out!

Medicaid Live Hangout with Danielle from HANM!, by ClearlySK
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We partied on for health care


Danielle unveils the new website, by danielle


So, first things first: you found our new website. Good job!

We've been working hard since January to get a new website up and running, and finally got a chance to celebrate with our Website Launch party on May 16th. The event was a blast, and we had everyone from Senator Shendo to enthusiastic community members in attendance.


You can find the key features of the website on your own by surfing through, but I'd like to draw your attention to a few key parts:

  • People from across the state can submit the stories of their experiences with health care, as well as read others' stories on our interactive map view.
  • 5 separate RSS feeds let you stay up-to-date on the news items that matter most to you - for example, the Marketplace Watch tracks all implementation of the new Health Insurance Marketplace (aka "Exchange") in New Mexico.
  • You can now donate ONLINE, including setting up recurring donations, by clicking on the "Donate" button on the top of each page.

Our goal with the new website is to create a central place where all information on health care reform in New Mexico is stored. Health reform is a huge, complicated topic, and communication about all the different parts can get tricky. We are working hard to make this site easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy to find all of the information that matters most to you.

Folks at our website launch party enjoyed live music by Sherri Gonzales, Ron Hale, and Marsha McMurray-Avila, including a new song on health reform that Marsha wrote specially for the event.

Sherri Gonzales and Ron Hale performing some live blues music, by danielle

Special thanks goes to our sponsors: La Montañita Co-Op, Flying Star Cafe & Satellite Coffee, and The Grove Cafe & Market. And a big thank you to all those who attended and made this a great event!

Lots of opportunities to meet new people at our website launch party, by danielle
Health Action

It’s a New Day for Health Care in New Mexico!


San Miguel Medicaid outreach event, by danielle

May 3, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. found me driving through miles of pecan groves in the southern part of New Mexico. I was heading to our first event in a series we are hosting this summer through Health Action New Mexico (HANM) – cultural learning events aimed at educating communities about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. I wasn’t sure what to expect; believe it or not, it can be difficult to get people really excited about attending an event where the main topic is health insurance.

Our first of these events was scheduled to be held in San Miguel, a small village in Doña Ana county. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by over a hundred happy, welcoming faces ready to celebrate the Cinco de Mayo and to hear about the new day for health care in New Mexico! This wonderful turnout was an accomplishment by our co-host for the event, Concilio Campesino, a non-profit organization that offers community services to residents in southern New Mexico. 

The program first included upbeat, celebratory music to commemorate el Cinco de Mayo, with snacks of fresh fruit, baked breads, coffee, and bottled water.  Then, after welcoming of all present by the Concilio Campesino team, we did a brief power point presentation narrated in Spanish of what is going to be offered under the Medicaid Expansion and the Health Insurance Marketplace.  This presentation was done as an introduction, providing the basics of who is eligible, how to apply, and how to get help if a challenge occurs during enrollment.  We also introduced a plan where there will be a "You Are Not Alone" committee of local community leaders to help those applying for enrollment in either of these programs to overcome any obstacle that they may encounter during enrollment periods.    There was a question and answer period as a part of the presentation, where many participants got to ask their questions.   We closed the event with a return to the celebratory activities of music and interchange among friends.

The event was fantastic. In addition to the great turnout, I appreciated the welcoming attitude that was displayed by the participants, the enthusiasm to learn about the health options being described, the interest to ask questions, and the commitment expressed by many to share information with others.  

Group photo at HANM's Medicaid outreach event in San Miguel
Group photo at HANM's Medicaid outreach event in San Miguel, by danielle


Our key strategy in these community events is to share factual information presented in the simplest, most actionable terms possible. We want to empower residents to determine for themselves who may be eligible, how to apply, and how to get help if necessary. Everyone took home checklists that walk through seeing if you are eligible for these new health insurance options, so they can take their health care into their own hands.

25% of New Mexicans are uninsured or underinsured. 170,000 people will be eligible for Medicaid Expansion in New Mexico, and another 200,000 for the Health Insurance Marketplace (aka “Exchange”). At HANM we are hosting these cultural learning events throughout the state to bring greater awareness of these health insurance options to communities around the state. If our first event is any indication, people are excited to find out about the changes that are occurring, and empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.

Our next event is Saturday, May 18th, 3:00 – 5:00pm, at the Beatrice Martinez Senior Center: 730 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park Road, Española NM. Featuring live musical guest Miguel Timoteo. Come celebrate a new day in health care with us!

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