Overcoming Fear and Loathing of the U.S. Healthcare Open Enrollment Season


Open enrollment season. These words are enough to create fear and loathing in the hearts of U.S. health insurer employees. Those affected range from vice presidents of contact centers and the customer experience (CX) to the workers who interact with consumers via phone, chat, and other channels.

Open enrollment season runs from November 1 of each year to January 15 of the next – creating 76 days of purgatory for health insurance workers to endure. During this season, CX leaders will likely have insomnia and night sweats, wondering if the experience they’ve designed and pressure-tested will perform as expected.

Contact center leaders may gobble antacids every day to counteract heartburn, hoping their processes won’t break under an onslaught of simultaneous website hits, interactive voice response (IVR) journeys, calls, chats, and emails. They’ll likely be pacing the halls, pondering how many people will call and when, whether the redesigned website will be easy to navigate, and how chatbots will fare against idiosyncratic questioning. They’ll also worry whether contact center staff will be supported enough with good processes to stick the landing or whether they’ll quit mid-season.frazzled-contact-center-agent

Getting Ready for Anything and Everything During Open Enrollment

Adding to the madness is the fact that demand and market conditions are changing. In 2021, a historic 14.5 million U.S. consumers signed up for health coverage through the Healthcare.gov website, thanks in part to premium tax subsidies due to the American Rescue Plan. Some 5.8 million consumers were brand-new signups, likely requiring more support from contact center staff to navigate options and evaluate plan tiering and services.

This year will be just as demanding. Trends such as the Great Resignation and a tidal wave of new freelancers and entrepreneurs are changing the health enrollment landscape on a monthly basis. In addition, rising inflation is hitting U.S. consumers’ budgets hard. Two-thirds of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck, as they scramble to cover higher costs. It’s likely, then, that millions of consumers will downscale health coverage to be able to afford it this year. If these changes happen at scale simultaneously, this will place significant stress on technology systems that aren’t calibrated for this type of shifting demand.

Cyara Offers Expertise and Handholding to Navigate the Madness

So, what can health insurers do to prepare for open enrollment? Here are three recommendations to get ready.

  1. Create the right plan: Total demand for services, consumer questions and pathways, staffing issues, and technology glitches can’t be fully known – but can be largely predicted. A partner can provide your healthcare organization with guidance on how to set strategy and evolve your CX and systems for this open enrollment season, as well as what you need to do to complete testing on time. Cyara provides this service for free to customers who are implementing our automated CX assurance testing platform.
  2. Test your CX: Obviously, all health insurance providers will test their CX and different pathways before November 1. But sometimes this testing – and the changes that ensue – can continue into the summer and fall, putting new processes in jeopardy. We know of one organization’s team that continued making changes up until October!
    Here's help to conquer these tasks more quickly: Use automated testing to identify the full range of gaps and flaws across different channels. For example, will the new data access paths from your CCaaS platform support the volume of updates? Are IVR journeys simple and effective? Will calls be routed to the right agents? Will agents have appropriate voice quality to understand and speak to callers? Is your chatbot preprogrammed to understand user intent? Can a consumer seamlessly transfer from one channel to another, such as from web-to-web chat or web to a scheduled call from an outbound agent?

    Cyara doesn’t design your CX, but we can use our powerful automated tools to test it at speed and scale. You can use these results to improve and retest processes. So, with proper planning, we can help you ensure your omnichannel CX for open enrollment is optimized and ready this year. As a result, you’ll be able to deliver a better experience to consumers and agents alike, streamline operations, and drive more revenues by converting inquiries into insurance signups.
  3. Continue to improve: Even with all of this preparation, it’s likely that issues will occur. The Cyara platform can help you drive rapidly to insight about what’s stressing digital processes during these important 76 days as well as make enhancements after open enrollment ends. Capturing lessons learned, socializing these insights, and committing to continuous improvement will make every year’s health insurance signup season a more streamlined and profitable process.

This year, as you and your team prepare for open enrollment season, know that Cyara is on your side. We can help you prepare, stress-test your CX and each pathway, and proactively address issues as they arise. To help you understand what guidance U.S. healthcare consumers need in selecting a plan, we have created this helpful infographic.

This year, trade fear and loathing for mindful stress, fierce determination, and fewer antacids. Use Cyara to help prepare for anything and everything, as your team helps consumers select the best insurance plans for their needs and budgets.

Want to learn more?

Download our infographic.