The future is now: preparing for open enrollment 2018

Though it may feel like the 2017 open enrollment period just ended, savvy health plan professionals are already starting to plan for 2018. To effectively engage the exchange population and keep up with rising member expectations, Vance outlines why it’s time to turn to intelligent self-service technology.
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Open enrollment 2018 is right around the corner. Health plans should start preparing now by adopting intelligent self-service capabilities.

Health plan executives may feel as if they’ve just finished the 2017 open enrollment period, but if the hope is to efficiently and effectively enroll and retain members for 2018, the planning starts now.

One of the key areas likely requiring innovation, if your plan hasn’t already, is self-service. Automated technologies are critical to engaging the exchange population: 88 percent of Millennials and 86 percent of Baby Boomers have used self-service options and a growing majority of all consumers believe self-service is an improvement over traditional, live customer service. And that latter group should be an area of particular focus. McKinsey & Company tells us that “the lifetime value of a Medicare Advantage member is more than 3 times that of a large group member, and almost 10 times that of an individual member.”

Prospective members expect to have automated interactions with a payer that are similar to what they’re experiencing with a bank or airline – your plan is no longer different than any other consumer relationship they have. It’s simply not enough to be better than your industry peers – you must deliver a consumer experience that lives up to the expectations created by these other industries.

The stakes for providing a polished consumer experience go even higher. Data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cites that 43% percent of returning federal exchange enrollees changed plans in 2016, as opposed to 29% in 2015. Additionally, 70% of those renewing coverage actively shopped for plans, compared with 53% in 2015.

Individual members are becoming increasingly fickle and most are hitting plans’ websites to help them decide in which plan they’ll be enrolling. A payer’s site is its “front door,” so it needs to be informative and easy-to-navigate. Virtual assistant technology can greatly help in this area. One top five plan deployed our virtual assistant using both English and Spanish versions on their desktop and mobile websites. The plan has seen strong results, achieving 77% first contact resolution in its most recent scorecard. What’s more, shoppers and members are getting their questions answered through an enhanced, seamless experience eliminating the need to speak with a live agent, while the plan reduces costs in the process. As a new enrollment period commences later in the year, adopting this type of technology will pay dividends.

Don’t wait until fall to start planning for automation and intelligent self-service capabilities. These members are valuable and they’re expecting more and more from you.

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Vance Clipson

About Vance Clipson

Vance Clipson, senior principal, industry solutions for Nuance Communications, focuses on vertical-specific marketing and strategy with an emphasis on healthcare. Clipson brings 25 years of experience translating industry needs and data into market strategy and programs for Milliman, PacifiCare Health Systems and the American Cancer Society.