Federal Exchange Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage, most cost effective saving Americans millions of dollars while improving customer service and access to care
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the fifth open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Exchange was the most cost effective and smooth enrollment experience for consumers, releasing data that shows the highest rates of consumer satisfaction to date at a lower cost. Similar to previous years, there was a surge in the number of consumers contacting the call center and visiting HealthCare.gov during the final days. Despite the increase in volume, both HealthCare.gov and the call center operated optimally and for the first time, a waiting room did not need to be deployed online during the final days of open enrollment. This provided consumers with exceptional site availability when the greatest number of consumers were making plan selections.
“Our goal from the beginning was to empower patients across the healthcare delivery system and make sure that Americans who chose to enroll in the Exchanges had a good customer experience while making enrollment more cost efficient, and the results show that we accomplished our goal,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “In a market that is experiencing soaring rates, I am proud of the hard work CMS put into making sure that our customers didn’t experience the website failures that were commonplace with HealthCare.gov in previous open enrollment periods.”
CMS cut wasteful spending and adjusted the open enrollment marketing budget this year to a level similar to what has proven to be effective for other major programs, like Medicare. CMS re-prioritized marketing tactics and focused funding and attention on the most strategic and efficient ways to reach consumers, including targeted digital advertising and email. This year, CMS spent only $10 million on marketing and outreach, which is just over $1 per enrollee all while improving the ease and quality of customer service. In comparison, last year CMS spent a total of $100 million, nearly $11 per enrollee.
The primary goal of this open enrollment period was to provide a seamless experience for consumers. While HealthCare.gov was scheduled for a total of 60 hours of regular maintenance during open enrollment, the site only used 21.5 hours. This meant consumers were able to shop and pick a plan with little interruption throughout the entire enrollment period. Data from the call center shows that the consumer satisfaction rate remained at an all-time high – averaging 90 percent – throughout the entire open enrollment period. This is up from 85 percent last year.
This year CMS also focused on building new partnerships with the private sector—as a way to begin to shift away from the government selling a private product, similar to Medicare and the successful growth of Medicare Advantage. To empower patients to take ownership of their healthcare decisions, CMS leveraged the capabilities of the private sector to help consumers through the selection process, including increasing opportunities for consumers to connect with agents and brokers. Agents and brokers are licensed professionals who help guide consumers through the complex task of choosing and utilizing health coverage. Many brokers are independent business people who live and work in the communities they serve and have years of experience in assisting clients.
This open enrollment period successfully realigned the Exchange with standard employer and Medicare open enrollment periods and with the calendar year, which offers a single effective date for coverage—January 1st, 2018—for all of the individuals and families who signed up for coverage. Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage ended with approximately 8.8 million people enrolling in coverage using the HealthCare.gov platform.
To read the week 7 enrollment snapshot, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-12-21.html