Street Mail ACA Notices from HHS to All Americans

Health Care

mailingsBaton Rouge   Rosa Hines, Louisiana State Director of Local 100 United Labor Unions, had set up an interesting meeting for all of us at the main mailing plant of the US Postal Service in Baton Rouge to see if there was a way to get a mass mail drop to low-and-moderate income families of literature about applying for coverage under the Affordable Care Act beginning on October 1st.  We met after 5pm in a quiet, nearly vacant office complex in the plant with a “special solutions” expert for the Post Office.

            You may have wondered what it costs to get those “Resident” mailings that show up from time to time in your mailboxes for supermarkets, tire stores, and the like.  No?  Well, regardless, the postage is 16 cents per item for what is called “street mail.”  With Street Mail, you take your mail to the area post office sorted in batches of one-hundred a piece and drop it there and the next day the carrier puts your notice in every residential mailbox in the zip code you ordered, charging you 16 cents times the count of valid addresses.   A random drop around our office in New Orleans in the upper 9th ward would have cost us only a little over $200 for the full drop.   Remembering the bulk mail drops that we would do in neighborhood organizing drives for ACORN, I was fascinated.  For a nonprofit like ourselves the cost would drop to 9 cents per item.   The math is pretty simple.   100,000 pieces would be $900.   1 million pieces would be $90 thousand.

            But, that’s for folks like us.   Why are HHS and the US Government not using their weight with the Post Office to drop an information and enrollment package for health insurance through Obamacare in every residential mail box in the United States?

            There are 114,761,359 households in the US according to the last Census.   Let’s say the cost for the government was 3 cents per piece in mailing.    That would mean a mailing cost of $3,442,840.77.   Heck, if they had to pay the full nonprofit rate like one of us, it would still be less than $10 million in postage.   Add the paper and whatever and maybe the cost is $20 million or even $30 million.  Given the gazillions of dollars of benefits and billions in benefits that the ACA is going to pay, that seems like a huge bargain in getting the word out and letting people know that they need to get it together starting October 1s and here’s how?

            The papers today reported that HHS is going to send out brochures to 55 million of the elderly just to assure them that ACA will not change their Medicare benefits.  If HHS can do that, why not go the last mile and make sure everyone gets a mailer showing them how to apply and where to go for help?

            Is this too simple or am I missing something?