On March 23, 2010, the Health Care Reform Act became the law of the land. Its impacts are far-reaching and the implications are confusing for businesses, consumers, and providers alike. Based on a March 2013 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, over half of all Americans do not understand how they will be effected by the law (including 2/3 of uninsured and low income respondents) , and employers both large and small are definitely examining their options. Individuals and businesses are asking questions. Insurance providers understand the need to ramp up their capacity to meet the expected influx of questions regarding rate changes and other impacts of the law.
While information is available to consumers from the federal government at www.healthcare.gov and numerous independent sources, insurance providers can expect increases in website traffic, emails, chat inquiries, and phone calls from consumers and businesses. Every one of these interactions represents an opportunity to inform, reassure, and retain existing customers, gain new leads and clients, and do it in ways that demonstrate the company’s concern and commitment to compliance and excellence in service levels, quality, customer service, and satisfaction.
Those tasked with preparing the company to respond will need to consider several factors:
- What channels should be covered (email, chat, inbound or outbound voice, social media)?
- What contacts can be handled without an insurance license?
- How large will the increase actually be?
- How many licensed and non-licensed agents will be needed?
- How long to recruit, license, and train them to company expectations?
- What are my best options for meeting this need? In-house or outsourced?
- How long will it take to ramp up?
- Licensing and reciprocal agreements
Once the first three questions have been addressed, the last two become somewhat clearer. Based on Etech’s long experience in providing customer service, sales, and support on multiple channels for Fortune 500 companies, we can provide some insight.
- The competition for licensed agents will rise, and there is definitely opportunity for newly licensed agents to enter the field to meet the demand through active recruiting.
- An expected implementation timeline can be as short as 30-45 days for many sales and customer service programs. However, this timeline can lengthen due to the complexity of a client’s needs and other factors.
- In a recent implementation for a major health insurance provider, the timeline was expanded to twelve weeks. Much of this time requirement involved licensure for agents. Other facets of implementation can generally be resolved while the personnel situation is addressed.
- Once a team of agents has been assembled, training can then begin. Training regimes vary based on the complexity of the program and client needs, but we recommend a minimum of two weeks training, and longer training periods are not at all unusual. Four to six weeks can be taken in an insurance environment, including incubation.
Once implementation is complete, the operations and quality teams will work together to ensure expectations are met and even exceeded. Further expansion can then be undertaken as needed, with a qualified leadership team fully engaged.
1Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: March 2013. http://bit.ly/WExXp7
2The Economist. Jan 26th 2013.The insured and the unsure. http://econ.st/Vb2LtH