Past Open Enrollments have affirmed the critical role that brokers and agents play in assisting consumers who enroll in affordable health insurance.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 110,000 of the 600,000 active brokers in the U.S. became certified to help consumers apply for financial assistance and enroll in coverage last year .
With the help of these agents and brokers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) met and exceeded its enrollment goals for the 2016 plan year, enrolling 12.7M consumers. According to Kevin Counihan, CMS’ Chief Executive Officer of the Marketplace and Director of CCIIO, nearly half of these enrollments were facilitated by agents and brokers .
As this year’s open enrollment (OE4) looms near (Nov 1 thru Jan 31), brokers across the nation are already looking for ways to prepare. Here are some tips:
Tip #1: Embrace Consumer-Centricity
Consumer-centricity has become a top priority for health plans, employers, and brokers. To embrace it, brokers must identify and adopt new ways of interacting, engaging, and enrolling their consumers that align closely with consumer preferences, wants, and needs. Think about the travel industry and sites like Kayak.com, where consumers can compare pricing on items such as flights, hotels and cars in real-time. This is the level of personalization that consumers have begun to demand across all industries, including health insurance. To meet these demands, brokers must look for ways to offer their consumers:
- Fast online quotes;
- Real-time subsidy calculations;
- Simplified plan detail comparisons; while
- Streamlining their account management functionality.
With Welltheos, offering this type of continuous journey to your customers is easier than you may think.
Tip #2: Engage Early On
For most consumers, health insurance can be a daunting and often dull topic, but it doesn’t have to be. Engaging consumers early can be the key to connecting with your new or loyal consumer bases. Understanding your clients’ needs, plan preferences, and contentment with their current provider and coverage, can be vital for retaining these customers year after year.
Next, determine your communication process and indicate this to your clients early on, so that the line of communication is established. By doing so, your clients will gain an understanding of what to expect and have knowledge of important dates for enrolling in coverage. Keep in mind that the one-size-fits all approach may not be best suited for today’s tech-savvy consumers. Instead, try opting for a hybrid approach that combines :
- Social media;
- Personalized letters;
- Informational lunch meetings;
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs); and
- Other non-traditional mediums.
Tip #3: Educate Consumers
The healthcare industry and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are packed with acronyms, terms, and regulations which can be overwhelming to consumers. It’s important that you stay current on ACA related topics in the continually changing healthcare environment. Be comfortable talking to consumers about State-Based Marketplaces (SBM) as well as the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) and know the different benefit options available to them. Discuss topics such as the individual and employer mandates, who is eligible for coverage, and how financial assistance is determined.
Have answers to questions like:
- What is the individual mandate?
- How do plan types differ?
- Can I continue to use my primary care physician (PCP)?
- Will I qualify for a subsidy or tax credit?
- Can I stay on my parents’ insurance policy?
Also, don’t forget to repeat your message. In marketing, the Rule of Seven remains one of the oldest, yet effective frequency concepts – meaning that information is often most effective when it is repeated. Keep in mind that to get information to stick, you may need to repeat your message up to 7 times.
Tip #4: Utilize Decision Support & Other Tools
With quoting, anonymous shopping, real-time subsidy calculations, and online management tools for tracking enrollments and commissions, technology has become a crucial aspect to brokers’ success. As consumer-centricity takes center stage, the need to accommodate consumer’s needs and wants, while streamlining the responsibilities required of brokers for each policy sold, is essential. When supported by the right technology, brokers can streamline their processes using a single benefit administration platform, thus avoiding the need to utilize multiple platforms, all while offering a superior experience to their customers.
Looking for more ways to prepare for Open Enrollment?
Visit us at www.welltheos.com or call 1-800-947-6757
The views and opinions expressed by the authors on this blog website and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Softheon, Inc. (dba Welltheos).