Known as Insure Detroit, this collaborative three-year initiative between several Detroit community organizations, health agencies, and University of Michigan (U-M) public health researchers aims to use a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to enhance the healthcare literacy of Detroit residents. The primary goal of the project is to boost understanding about the advantages of health coverage and how to obtain it, and one of the primary tools being developed to accomplish this goal is an interactive website (accessible and responsive via smart phones and tablets), with links to videos and other practical resources.
“We want to provide insight into the extent to which the health insurance situation in Detroit can be improved through directly addressing healthcare literacy barriers and challenges through behavior change approaches,” said Minal Patel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the U-M School of Public Health (SPH), and co-Principal investigator of the project.
Insure Detroit completed 10 focus groups with key populations in Detroit (Latino, African American, and Arab American) to determine what they consider the greatest challenges and barriers to finding, understanding, and securing affordable healthcare coverage. The developed website—available in English, Spanish, and Arabic—will focuses specifically on answering and addressing those concerns.
Long term, the hope and hypothesis of the project team is that, once individuals engage with the site and go through all of its modules, they will become more informed consumers of the process of obtaining health coverage; will stay enrolled in an insurance plan for longer periods; and will be able to make maximum use of the benefits offered by their existing plans. A survey of 240 Detroit patients/households will help the team to evaluate the website's effectiveness in meeting such goals.
“Many of our patients have not had insurance available to them for a long time, and they are not familiar with the terms involved or how best to use insurance," said Mercy Primary Care Medical Director Margaret Meyers. "The culturally appropriate website being developed should definitely help patients to learn more about insurance options available to them, so they can obtain just the coverage they need to improve their health and lives."
Ermina Ramirez, Director of Community Relations and Outreach for the Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS) elaborates: “The idea of preparing more individual’s to obtain, maintain, and afford health insurance—let alone of making the process easier and more understandable—will be a huge advantage to our community."
Detroit organizations involved include Latino Family Services; Mercy Primary Care; Covenant Community Care; the Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS); the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), Enroll America, the Michigan Primary Care Association, and the Michigan Department of Community Health. All organizations are represented on the project steering committee, which provides oversight and guidance of major initiatives of the study.
The National Institute for Healthcare Reform is funding the project. Co-Principal Investigators are Minal Patel, Ph.D., U-M SPH, and Richard Lichtenstein, Ph.D., S.J. Axelrod Collegiate Professor of Health Management and Policy at U-M SPH. Additional co-investigators include U-M SPH Professor and Detroit URC Director Barbara Israel and Peter Song, Professor of Biostatistics at U-M.