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Welcome to Open Enrollment!

5 healthcare communication tips for a successful season.

Welcome to Open Enrollment!

Open enrollment season is upon us, marking one of the busiest times of year for health insurance providers. While you may be working more hours than usual and juggling more tasks than normal, you have a great opportunity ahead of you to create a good first impression for new members and reiterate the value you bring to existing members.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned from being on both sides of healthcare communications, drawing upon my years working in the trenches at a major health insurer and now as a member of Broadridge’s healthcare communications team.  

Tip 1: Ask for What You Want
When you are enrolling new members, it’s the best time to collect information for creating future personalized experiences. Members are expecting to answer questions, and, at the same time, they expect a smooth onboarding experience. If you are trying to grow digital adoption, ask them to opt-in for digital communications at the start of your relationship. It’s also a good time to ask them about what they are interested in learning more about, like wellness tips, workshops, and community events.

Tip 2: Reduce Costs by Setting Expectations
Another way to make the onboarding experience better is to email key milestones and dates to new members, as well as welcome them and their family to your plan. A timeline of key dates can proactively address their questions and help set expectations, which may eliminate unnecessary calls to your call center. According to Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends, the average call to a call center costs $9.42, representing a significant savings opportunity. You can also send temporary ID cards that include the effective date until you are able to include the final comprehensive plan details. This gives members comfort, reduces their anxiety, and can reduce operational costs.

Tip 3: Get Personal
Based on the enrollment information you collect, you can gather information to make future communications more relevant. According to the recent Broadridge Healthcare Communications Survey, half of members surveyed want the communications they receive from their insurer to be personalized or highly personalized; the 24 percent who want it highly personalized say this means communications are customized as specifically as possible to their situation and needs. Personalization could include their doctor’s name, provider network, and the community service you provide in their area.    

Engage members on the channels they prefer, leveraging the information you know about them. This may seem obvious, but it’s critical, especially when you consider 93 percent of members say the quality and convenience of communications is an important factor in choosing or renewing with their health insurer (source: Broadridge Healthcare Communications Survey). At the end of the day, we all want to feel like we are being treated like a person and not a number.

Tip 4: Show You Appreciate Existing Members
Whether they enroll through an employer group or as an individual buyer, this is a time to relieve the concerns of your existing members who may be going through a policy change. For example, if they are switching from a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) to a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), you can provide them with information to help them with the transition. Members with chronic health conditions can be sent cost-saving alternative prescription options, ways to help alleviate their conditions, and condition management program or nurse-line information. Also, by analyzing their facility and provider usage, you can identify members who may benefit from learning about urgent care and preferred provider locations in their area. By helping influence the behaviors of your members, you also benefit.    

Tip 5: Conduct a Communications Audit
As you navigate through the challenges of open enrollment and end-of-year communications, it is easy to become inward-focused on the technology and project issues that typically raise their ugly heads during this time. I’ve been there. I suggest conducting a communications audit, putting yourself in your member’s shoes. Receiving an EOB, current invoice, and a renewal letter in the span of a few days can be confusing. Look at these challenges as true opportunities to not only simplify the solution but also to truly improve your members’ experience. 

Ask yourself:

  • Is there an opportunity to reduce costs by packaging and consolidating your open enrollment materials? 
  • Are you giving members information that is easy to understand and helps them use their insurance benefits? 
  • Are you considering all communications that are going to the member and the timing of each?
  • Are you causing members to make expensive phone calls due to overcomplicated messaging? 
  • Are you demonstrating the value of your digital communications beyond environmental benefits?

Open enrollment is the time to make a good impression on new and existing members. Good luck to you this season!