Top Challenges of Open Enrollment and How to Solve Them
Open enrollment is upon us, and with it comes a variety of challenges. Here are seven ways your health insurance plan can have a more successful season.
1. Get the Word Out
CMS’s promotional budget for open enrollment was slashed by 90 percent in the 2017 period and that will likely hold this year, so insurers can’t count on government PSAs to get the word out.
Instead, you need to do the heavy lifting. Spread the word on popular social media platforms, in mailers and by word-of-mouth. A platform like PatientBond can help by identifying prospective members in any geographic area with a proprietary psychographic segmentation model for improved effectiveness and efficiency in your marketing spend.
Because different psychographic segments respond to different messaging and media channels, defining your Prime Prospect target(s) is critical. Are you interested in wellness and prevention-oriented seniors for a Medicare Advantage plan? Then you want to appeal to the Self Achievers segment. Are you after Millennials who don’t often utilize healthcare services? The Willful Endurers segment may be your target. There are five distinct psychographic segments among healthcare consumers, each of which have unique motivations and communication preferences.
You can offer the most robust, affordable open enrollment plan, but if no one knows you’re there, none of that matters. Do everything you can to get the word out, using the right communication channels and messaging.
2. Start Early
Something to keep in mind year after year: Just getting the word out isn’t good enough. Getting the word out early is what you should be shooting for. Most benefit programs open enrollment period begins in November. Don’t start announcing deadlines and pushing plans as late as October 25, but don’t start as early as March, either. A robust late-summer campaign will keep the issue in people’s minds. Give people the maximum amount of wiggle room possible.
This underscores the importance of maintaining an ongoing relationship with members throughout the year. However, without accessing health services with much frequency, members may not experience the necessary touchpoints with the health insurance company to facilitate this relationship.
The most cost-effective way to maintain an ongoing relationship with members is through digital channels. Wellness reminders, health education, birthday congratulations and many other engagement opportunities can be delivered at no/low cost via emails, text/SMS, automated calls, health apps and portals. PatientBond can deliver psychographic-specific communications that resonate more strongly with members and motivate them toward desired behaviors.
3. Provide Consistent Q&As
Even for someone well-schooled in insurance plans and policies, the open enrollment process can be intimidating and confusing. Schedule information nights in high-concentration communities and offices. Make sure your call center staff is well-versed on the topics and that representatives give consistent answers. There’s nothing worse than having one employee dispense an answer while another gives an entirely different answer to the same question. A user-friendly website with a detailed FAQ can also go a long way toward smoothing the open enrollment process.
4. Utilize Technology
Whether it’s the growing suite of AI tools or user-specific patient platforms, health insurers should use the latest technology to acquire and retain members. With health insurance member turnover averaging 20 percent each year — half of which is voluntary — consistent, ongoing engagement with members throughout the year is critical for a successful open enrollment season.
PatientBond, for example, is a configurable, digital communications platform that uses psychographic messaging, which can enhance your health insurance company’s efforts to acquire new members and boost loyalty. These member-specific, targeted messages are based on members’ unique behaviors, motivations and preferences. Every member encounter triggers PatientBond's automated communications to strengthen your digital relationship at significantly reduced cost.
5. Avoid Data Dumping
Technology can be used to simplify the process, but it can also be used inadvertently to make everything more complicated. Don’t bury people in reams of useless information that they’ll never need and only cause confusion. You don’t need to compare your plan to 42 others. Focus on selling and explaining your plan in a way that is easily understood by your current and prospective members.
6. Demystify Insurance Terms
We agree with Winston Benefits’ summation that, “there’s a tendency for people to avoid what they don’t understand — which creates headaches for employers who are trying to communicate benefit details.” People get lost in a labyrinth of terms like out-of-pocket, out-of-network, out-of-pocket maximum, co-pay, COBRA and so on.
Busy parents who are trying to juggle work, soccer practice and a visit to the gym don’t have the time or patience to wade through the morass of insurance dialect. We’re not saying to dumb down explanations, but respect your members’ time by not burying them in a blizzard of similar-sounding terms that they won’t remember. At the very least, provide a glossary that defines these terms.
7. Set Up Pop-up Insurance Tents
Whether you’re enrolling on a corporate campus or in a community, go where the people are. Set up up a pop-up benefits tent in the cafeteria to catch workers at lunch. Or maintain a presence at Friday night football games or have a booth at the fall harvest festival. Make sure you have packets for people to take home with easy-to-digest information on plans and policies.
Thankfully, open enrollment is just once a year, but it’s an opportunity for an ongoing digital relationship with members throughout the year if choreographed and managed properly. Follow the above steps for your successful open enrollment season yet.