Provide excellent patient assistance this insurance re-enrollment season and leave a positive impact.
In the United States, annually, between November and mid-January, insurance companies require their patients to re-enroll their plans. According to a Reuters study, 14.1 million people signed up for health insurance during the November 2021-January 2022 re-enrollment period.
Specific deadlines within the three-month window tend to vary per company; however, sometimes deadlines fall close to one another or even overlap. An added caveat is that some programs are more popular than others, meaning they have a high volume of patients to enroll. It is important to note that it is not unheard of to go without certain turnaround times (start to finish in terms of filing) during high demand.
Patient re-enrollment has many moving parts; without organization and strategic planning, the season can quickly become challenging and chaotic. However, this is easily preventable with a proactive attitude and willingness to get started early.
Here are six tips to ensure you’re well prepared, organized and confident for the upcoming re-enrollment season.
1. Check for Updates
2. Get Organized
3. Start Early
4. Be Prepared For Questions
5. Pay Attention to Detail
6. Document Everything
Knowledge of the changes in coverage is a vital part of providing patient assistance; this information can help patients decide whether or not they need a patient financial assistance program.
It is not uncommon for policies, information requirements or even essential details about the coverage plans will change between annual re-enrollment periods. Changes may not be the case for every insurance company annually; however, it is best to know ahead of time.
We recommend creating systems that work best for you and keep you organized. Some of our best tips for staying organized include making an informational spreadsheet and building a re-enrollment filing system with blank forms and informational sheets for easy access.
Make a spreadsheet matrix of the companies and plans your patients use. This will require research you can do via company websites. In this spreadsheet, for each company you work with, you are outlining the following information:
• Company information: document the company’s name, website links to important information, contact information and, if applicable, the name and extension number of a helpful representative you may be friendly with from past re-enrollment seasons. Having a liaison always is a plus!
• Plans: make a list of the insurance plans and packages that each company offers and how each company’s available plans may differ from their other plans in coverage
• Time-bound information: write down all hard deadlines and the average anticipated turnaround time for that specific company
• Information requirements: make a note of any required patient information that is not standard for most re-enrollment forms
With your spreadsheet prepared, it’s time to gather the most used forms and create an electronic filing system. Next, we advise you to gather blank PDF copies of all the necessary forms and informational sheets to reference outside a live, electronic filing system.
This way, you can quickly reference information and not risk leaking private information may any specific questions arise. Ideally, you will want to upload these helpful resources to the cloud for safekeeping. Having these documents in a safe place where you can download them and send them quickly will be a time saver.
We recommend contacting insurance companies once you have completed your spreadsheet research. Calling a representative or reaching out via email is a great way to confirm or discuss any questions regarding the new changes you have noted. Going over more complex details can be helpful with an insurance representative and is a great way to ensure you have the correct patient product assistance information to pass along to patients.
Depending on the volume of your health system, you could be re-enrolling dozens or even hundreds of patients. To ensure you’re being as efficient as possible, we recommend organizing your patients by what program they’re enrolled in and prioritizing them by the plan with the longest turnaround time for approvals. This strategy will prepare you for when it’s time to get in touch for status updates.
Once you have contacted the insurance companies with your questions and feel knowledgeable, reach out to the patients you’re assisting this re-enrollment season for status updates. During these calls, ask patients if they have any questions about their insurance coverage due to concerns or changes in their health. These questions can provide valuable insights into more niche questions and concerns you may have for insurance companies.
For patients who are ready to enroll, get started ASAP. Some companies have longer turnaround times than others, and it’s not unheard of for companies to have multiple-weeks-long turnaround times during the height of re-enrollment season.
Once you feel organized in the best way, it is time to prepare for questions. Being well-informed increases the likelihood of patients getting affordable coverage that meets their needs and aligns with patient financial assistance program income guidelines. After all, the goal is to ensure patients do not have any barriers preventing them from receiving care.
It is helpful to review and refresh your knowledge of different plans and develop background knowledge beyond your spreadsheet. Patient financial assistance programs require empathy and a genuine desire to help others, and helping patients navigate living a healthy life can be extremely rewarding!
This one is simple but vital. Do what you can to always avoid time-consuming mistakes. It pays to double-check your work after completing a task. The tiniest errors and inconsistencies can cause issues or delays in insurance coverage and create unnecessary stress among patients needing treatment for severe illnesses and conditions.
It would be impossible to remember every conversation you have with every patient, every program, every day. That’s why it’s critical to document your conversations, application submissions and program approvals to keep up with where you are in the process for each patient. Call the program and request information if an issue arises with an application. But document the time and date you did so. You can reference the last conversation if you must call back in a few days. Having the information nearby too quickly referenced in discussions with the program representatives is very handy.
Atlas has the functionality to keep all patient re-enrollments organized and provide alerts when patients are due for re-enrollment. Our electronic application and signature retrieval process have saved advocates hundreds of hours of manual work. It has an all-in-one solution to ensuring no patient is left behind. But even without a solution like Atlas, these tips can help you get through another busy re-enrollment period.
Looking for Affordable Care?
Understanding the available patient financial assistance options can help patient advocates better assist patients during difficult times. Get in touch with Atlas Health today to discuss your patient financial assistance programs and see how we can make it faster and easier for those patients to receive the critical care they deserve.