Home Health Insurance Countdown to Open Enrollment: BCBS of AZ and HCSC are preparing, are...

3… 2… 1… ready or not, here it comes! Open Enrollment is fast approaching, and insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Health Care Service Corporation are busy preparing. Last year was chaotic, which meant fighting through marketplace challenges just to ensure transactions could be completed. This year, payers are taking a more measured approach to their digital solutions. This includes applying the lessons learned from last year, reacting to the analytics they’ve gathered, updating their sites to improve the user experience, and complying with continued regulatory changes.

Here are a few of considerations for this year’s Open Enrollment:

  • Penalties for eligible individuals who choose to go without health insurance will continue to grow, further incenting them to sign up. This means a continued influx of new potential buyers.
  • Under-65 enrollment dates are November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015 – six weeks later than last year. For those needing plans by January 1, this will increase urgency and potentially site traffic.
  • Individuals who enrolled last year and take no action will be automatically enrolled in the same plan for 2015. If the same plan is no longer available, insurers have the right to enroll these members in the most comparable plan they offer. This could create communication and support problems for both users and insurers. How will you address these needs?
  • Changes to family status or income may require re-assessing subsidy eligibility. Is your subsidy calculator up to date and easily accessible to your users? Does your site clearly educate the user about current plans?

This year, it will be critical for insurers to do a better job meeting the needs of their consumers. As users become familiar with the shopping and enrollment processes, many of the barriers to switching between insurers will disappear. Keeping members loyal and engaged will be increasingly important. In the weeks leading up to open enrollment, where should insurers be concentrating their efforts?

Below are a few strategic items that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona has focused on – and some suggestions that you can adopt for your own organization:

  • Improving the shopping experience by directing shoppers to the best information available based on where they are at in the buying cycle – educating, browsing, buying. Does your site channel the user based on their intent when they come to the site?
  • Making it easier to review medical plans with a more user-friendly experience. Is it easy to compare plans? Are narrow networks clearly identified? This has been a considerable challenge this year as many plans moved to more narrow networks, with a significant increase in users going out of network without realizing it. Make sure your plan information clearly defines the provider network and plan comparisons.
  • Ensuring transparency tools are easily accessible. Is your Find a Doctor tool at the forefront of the site? This can be helpful in dealing with the challenges of narrow networks.
  • Improving educational tools and content. Creating a more usable experience for educational content and bringing the subsidy calculator to the forefront of the experience helps ensure the user has a “next step” once the subsidy has been determined.
  • Improving the mobile experience – is your site adaptive, responsive or even usable on mobile devices? How difficult is it to maintain? Moving to a mobile optimized solution takes time and planning, and if this is not already part of your foundational roadmap, it’s time start thinking about it now.
  • Bringing multilingual capabilities up to speed. If offerings in other languages were limited last year, consider a more robust set of content and/or a more seamless experience in your secondary language content.

In addition, Health Care Service Corporation (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Montana) has also prepared for open enrollment with a focus on initiatives such as:

  • Consolidating microsites – last year, many insurers created a multitude of microsites to deal with specific needs (health care reform, exchange integration, shopping guides, etc). Can those messages be consolidated in a single site with an intuitive information structure?
  • Consistency across offline and online communications.
  • Expanding social efforts to generate discussions, reach audiences in new ways, and continue to establish a presence in the social environment. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas has taken a first step with this with their connect.bcbstx.com initiative.
  • Create solutions for individual member discontinuance and renewals through an experience focused on facilitating both renewals and purchases for 2015.

It’s the final countdown to Open Enrollment – will you be ready?

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Amy brings twenty years of experience in delivering high-impact, high-value digital solutions, and her innovative thinking has helped numerous health insurers dramatically improve customer engagement. Amy has a long track record of helping clients navigate the consumerization of healthcare - and a long record on the track running half marathons and other hard-core races.

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