The open enrollment period for the 2016 Health Insurance Marketplace begins Nov. 1, and it’s critical for all community stakeholders, including hospitals, to continue to build on the good work that has been done during the past couple of years to make it easier for millions more Americans to get affordable health care coverage.

Nationwide efforts to make the enrollment process easy, accessible and widely available have yielded impressive results.

The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped one-third since 2013. That’s almost 16 million people who now have a ticket to healthier, more productive lives. The biggest gains have been among the poor.

It’s not time to declare victory yet: 9.2% of Americans still don’t have coverage, the majority of them in states that did not expand Medicaid. But it is exciting to see our nation moving steadily toward greater coverage, better health care and, ultimately, better health.

America’s hospitals have played a large part in broadening coverage by training navigators and certified assistance counselors, holding health fairs and education sessions and working with community partners to help get people covered. 

The upcoming open enrollment period ends Jan. 31 – just three months to make sure those already enrolled understand and comply with the renewal process and to connect those who are still uninsured with health care coverage.

The AHA’s “Get Enrolled” page has links to an extensive collection of AHA, national and state-specific resources that can help you make this year’s enrollment effort your most successful yet.

Coverage counts when it comes to meeting the AHA’s vision of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. Access to health insurance coverage is a passport to much more than the ability to get care when a patient is injured or ill; it empowers people to take the right steps to stay healthy.

Coverage matters – and we need to continue to help make it happen. After all, every American deserves access to basic health care services – services that provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time.