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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

Lukewarm response to HealthCare.gov enrollment outreach in rural Missouri

Alan Cleaver


As an Affordable Care Act navigator, Kate King has been traveling to counties throughout central Missouri spreading awareness of and getting Missourians enrolled in HealthCare.gov.  

King works with the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, which serves a 19-county area, 17 of them rural. The agency is part of a nonprofit alliance that received $750,000 in federal grants in August to help with Healthcare.gov outreach. 


King says reaching people in rural areas has been difficult. She attributes it to misinformation about the law and the shaky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. 

“I think we all thought in the beginning that everybody would be beating our doors down,” King said. “But it’s been slow.”

To do outreach, King has worked with churches, regional planning commissions and county libraries, she said. She writes press releases and does presentations on nights and weekends throughout central Missouri with fellow navigators. 

“When people come to these presentations, they’ll say ‘Why isn’t anybody else here? How come no one is here?’” King said. 

As she continues the outreach efforts, King says she appreciates being able to help uninsured individuals. Last week, she successfully helped enroll a woman who lives in Morgan County, where 20 percent of the population is uninsured. 

“I was very excited because it all went through, and it wasn’t even like an hour,” King said, referring to the glitches that made enrolling on HealthCare.gov take many hours. “She had her plan chosen and she enrolled in that plan!”

Dec. 23 is the last day to enroll in a HealthCare.gov plan that would begin coverage on Jan. 1. King says she has cleared her schedule this week and that her office, on  1121 Business Loop 70 East, Suite 2A in Columbia, is open for walk-in enrollment help. 

For more information on getting enrolled, call:
Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, 573-443-5823 or (800) 369-5211
Family Health Center, 573-886-6790 
Primaris, 573-817-8338.

Enrollment dates and deadlines to remember:
Dec. 23: Last day to enroll for a HealthCare.gov insurance plan with coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2014
Dec. 31: Last day to pay for the first month's premium, so that the coverage actually starts on Jan. 1, 2014
March 31, 2014: Last day to enroll for insurance to avoid paying the individual mandate

Harum Helmy started as KBIA's Health and Wealth reporter in January 2013. She has previously worked at the station as a news assistant, helping assign and edit stories by student reporters. Harum grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and graduated from MU with degrees in journalism and anthropology in 2011. She's trying to finish up an MA in journalism.