"Woodworker" poll results and my decision on the terminology

Yesterday I posted a poll asking whether people found the term "woodworker" (used to describe new Medicaid enrollees who were already eligible to be enrolled even without the expansion provisions of the ACA) to be offensive. The thinking is that "woodworker" makes it sound like you're an insect creeping around under the floorboards and so forth; not the prettiest image.

Anyway, the poll is now closed, and the results are in...out of 505 votes total:

  • 83% felt that I should keep using the term "woodworker" enrollees
  • 10% felt that I should switch to the friendlier-sounding "welcome mat" enrollees
  • 7% felt that I should use some other term

This led to a robust discussion about what seems to be a pretty minor issue, but apparently means a lot to people. Other suggestions included:

  • Bonus Enrollees
  • PQEs (Previously Qualified Enrollees)
  • PEPs (Prior Eligible People)
  • Awoken Enrollees
  • PEEs (Previously Eligible Enrolls) (um..no.)
  • FQSs (Formerly Qualified Sign-ups)

...and so forth.

Several people pointed out that "welcome mat" could also be seen as offensive (as in "something to be stepped on"), not to mention that it's a bit of a slap in the face to the 4.8 million or so people stuck in the Medicaid gap in non-Expansion states, which sure as hell didn't put out the "welcome mat" for new Medicaid enrollees (those states actually slammed the door in their faces).

One unexpected angle: Several people were confused by the term "woodworker" and thought that it referred to an extremely strong carpentry/logging industry union which had some sort of special Medicaid status or something. This may sound strange, but if you think about it, it kind of makes sense.

On the other hand, a few people pointed out that while "woodworkers" may be confusing, it's also pretty much become the accepted terminology within the healthcare news media; my switching to a different term while everyone else is using "woodworkers" would cause even more confusion.

SO...here's what I've decided to do: On The Graph I'm simply referring to them like so:

Previously Qualified
Medicaid/CHIP Enrollees
(aka “Woodworkers”)

In blog entries, I'll go with "PQEs (aka "woodworkers")".

So it is written; so it shall be done.

UPDATE: OK, several other healthcare publications have taken to calling this population "Welcome Mat" enrollees instead, so I'll go with that.