Open enrollment can be a stressful time for consumers who often feel overwhelmed by the information involved in making a healthcare coverage selection. When your call center is overburdened by the number of calls coming in, the staff is less able to help consumers in need, and the result can be unsatisfied customers, overworked staff and a process that doesn’t come close to keeping pace with demand. By planning now to prepare your healthcare open enrollment call center for year-end you can avoid these issues.
Prepare Early and Know the Facts
Depending on which states your call center handles, you could be taking open enrollment calls from as early as October 15th to as late as the end of January. Even after open enrollment closes for whatever area you handle, you’ll likely be taking calls for a few weeks from people who missed enrollment or have questions about the options they chose.
As of mid-2018, open enrollment periods for various locations were published as:
- October 15 through January 15 for California
- November 1 through January 31 for the District of Columbia
- November 1 through December 15 for most other states, with some state-run markets opting to extend enrollment and special enrollment periods for individuals who have plans that end on 12/31
No matter what areas your call center covers or what plans you work with, preparing now for the incoming call volume at the end of 2018 and into 2019 has many benefits, including:
- Better management of resources that leads to reduced costs
- Increased ability to support customers in the most efficient and appropriate ways
- More positive staff morale because employees are less likely to become overwhelmed with the workload when you ramp up ahead of time
Tips for Preparing Your Healthcare Open Enrollment Call Center
Staffing up to the right levels is obviously a primary concern for a healthcare open enrollment call center. Efficiency wins can only gain so much leverage when you’re dealing with healthcare issues because each call could take a while, so you’ll have to add staff to keep up. One way to plan ahead is to take advantage of call center outsourcing services. Remember to keep regulatory requirements in mind when setting up any healthcare-related outsource contract.
Other things you can do to ensure your call center is ready for the open enrollment rush include:
- Reviewing infrastructure and equipment, including computers, phones, intranet connections and even data storage to ensure all your technology is ready to shoulder the load for such scale
- Reviewing and editing call scripts to ensure they address any specifics for this year’s open enrollment
- Conducting feedback sessions to learn what challenges staff face in taking phone calls (especially during peak times) so you can plan to alleviate those obstacles
- Requiring all staff to take training on open enrollment procedures, even if it’s a refresher from last year for some employees
- Creating easy-to-navigate documentation about open enrollment procedures and policies, and making them available via intranet portals so staff doesn’t have to wait for supervisors to answer every question