By Will Saunders, group president, Government Healthcare Solutions, Xerox

As savvy consumers, we like to carefully weigh options so we can make informed decisions. Shopping comparison websites like Expedia helps us feel confident we’re getting the best price and schedule for a flight, and Amazon has an uncanny way of knowing exactly what we’re looking for so we have a more personal shopping experience.

Consumers will soon have access to this same type of comparison shopping and online experience when purchasing healthcare. Within a few Consumer-Friendly Health Insurance Marketplaces Take Shape months, health insurance marketplaces, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, will be up and running in every state, and they are required to start accepting participants during open enrollment in October 2013.

When evaluating their plans for health insurance marketplaces, states had three paths from which to choose: a state-based marketplace; a state/federal partnership; or a federally facilitated exchange. No matter what model of marketplace they have chosen (plans to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were due by Feb. 15.), the 50 states share a common challenge: They will all need to consider how to manage increased questions from citizens seeking answers about how the new marketplaces will affect their access to healthcare.

Many people will need a degree of hand-holding to determine which healthcare option is right for them – and that means phones could be ringing off the hook in each of the 50 states. And, since people are accustomed to having multiple communications options, they’ll look beyond the telephone for a variety of choices to get reliable information about the new health insurance marketplaces.

Our recommendation is for states to identify a partner with proven call center expertise, deep knowledge of healthcare policy and programs, trained and professional agents, and best-in-class technology to help ensure residents are well supported in making their healthcare choices. The Nevada health insurance marketplace, for example, will use a Xerox call center so Nevadans can get in touch via an Interactive Voice Response system, through the Web, or by talking to a live agent.

With the right call center partner, states can spend more resources focused on the myriad other elements involved in building and running a health insurance marketplace.

 

Xerox Government Healthcare Solutions is the national leader in state health care program administration. An ardent and enthusiastic career health care professional, Will  strongly believes in the power of technology to improve health outcomes.